What are Bladder Irritants?
So remember when you finish your morning coffee that amazing last sip and you sit down to get to that first meeting and everyone’s around the table – your boss, your boss’s boss, and about 20 minutes into it you’re like oh shoot I gotta go to the bathroom maybe I shouldn’t have finished that coffee this morning.
Today I’m going to teach you about bladder irritants like coffee that can affect the way that your bladder reacts and makes you feel like you got to pee sometimes and for some people these bladder irritants can be really strong and bothersome and for others it really doesn’t matter so we’re going to get down and dirty with the science behind it and talk to you all about it.
I’m Dr. Malik I’m a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgeon and I’m here to teach you how to live your best life and improve your pelvic health so let’s go. I will wholeheartedly admit that I love coffee I cannot go a day without at least one cup of coffee. I have two boys, I’m a full-time working mom, I’m a surgeon and I love my coffee but you know there’s certainly times where I’ll drink a coffee and I gotta go to the bathroom five times when normally I probably only had to go once. So why does that even happen? Well, in animal studies they’ve looked at animals and they looked at their chronic caffeine consumption, those who’ve taken caffeine Or drank caffeine for a very long time in large amounts, and they found that it actually affects the way your bladder functions that actually makes your bladder contract more often and those bladder contractions actually make you feel the urge to go to the bathroom and that’s why after you drink coffee sometimes you’ll feel the urge more strongly also caffeine is a diuretic so when you drink a cup of coffee or any sort of caffeinated beverage, a soda, a tea, even some chocolate that has caffeine in it, you’ll find that you’re making more urine than you’re actually putting in your body as far as fluids so you’re gonna go to the bathroom more often.
There’s some data that shows that actually the caffeine itself makes our bladders more sensitive so that we actually feel full sooner than we actually normally would. That may explain why some of you guys have that experience.
They did a study on healthy young adults so between the ages of eighteen to forty five and they basically had them all sign up and for five days they were in a pre exposure phase which means that they couldn’t drink any caffeine. After five days they were randomized meaning half of them, about twenty-eight, got a caffeinated beverage that was measured out for a certain amount of caffeine which was actually four hundred and fifty milligrams of caffeine and then The other group was given the same amount of coffee but it was a decaf amount, it was about twelve or fifteen grams of coffee and they measured the caffeine to be four hundred and fifty milligrams. So what exactly does that even mean? That is like the equivalent of one venti Starbucks cup, two and a half large McDonald’s coffees, one and a half Dunkin Donuts coffees, and for those in Canada, one and a half Tim Hortons coffee and you know why I know about Tim Horton’s I’m from Buffalo, New York which is basically like Canada and I grew up drinking Tim Hortons and it’s amazing so if you haven’t had it make sure you try it when you go to Canada or if you’re ever coming to Buffalo. They also asked the participants how much they measured how much coffee or caffeine intake they had daily before the study and so they just could group them as high-frequency users or they drank a lot of caffeine all the time or low frequency users they drank a little coffee all the time and so what they found was those who drank a lot of coffee when they went to decaf their symptoms, their urinary urgency and frequency symptoms went down. High users before the study and then began drinking in the caffeinated groups still had an increase in their urgency and frequency of urination and those who were in the low frequency group when they got exposed to caffeine they had way worse urgency and frequency and then when that low group stayed low again they had no change in their symptoms.
What does this tell us? Well caffeine does correlate with symptoms of urgency and frequency. If you’re a high user already you might have developed some tolerance to it but if you’re regularly a low user and you go out like “hey I want a venti Frappuccino from starbucks” you probably will have to go to the bathroom a little more than usual. Bottom line is if you’re drinking coffee It might make you go a lot especially if you are drinking a lot of it. If you find that it’s bothering you, that you’re going to the bathroom a lot, well then cut back on your caffeine. So other things I tell my patients is if you are drinking coffee and you know it makes it worse but you don’t really care you can try not to drink it before you go on a plane or before you go to the movies so that maybe you won’t have problems moving forward.
That’s our first bladder irritant and let’s move on to our next one.
Number two bladder irritant is alcohol. When you drink it it gets metabolized in your body to a metabolite called acetaldehyde and acetaldehyde actually is a bladder irritant it goes into our bloodstream and into our urine and it can affect our bladder that way and make it increase the ability to contract. Alcohol is actually a diuretic similar to caffeine it’s gonna make you make more urine than you actually produce so when you drink you might notice that people are going to the bathroom a little more often when they’re at the brewery or when they’re having their glass of wine with dinner. Alcohol also is a bladder irritant and makes your bladder contract more strongly and so it also increases that urge feeling like you’ve gotta go, gotta go, and so for some people this is worse than others. They’ve shown though that there is some benefit to moderate alcohol intake – so what’s moderate alcohol intake that’s 1 five ounce glass of wine a 12 ounce glass of beer and a 1 and a half ounce of shot of 80 proof alcohol. So moderate drinking includes one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. So the data here is controversial for some people alcohol has not panned out to be a bladder irritant definitely in high uses alcohol is a big no.
Alcohol can also be a bladder irritant that can also make you go alot so if you’re bothered by it watch what you’re drinking maybe cut back on that drinking a little bit.
Now the third bladder irritant is actually carbonated beverages and why because they have preservatives like citric acid and ascorbic acid which increases the ability of your bladder to contract so for some people you might be sensitive to carbonated beverages because of those preservatives and carbonated beverages can contain caffeine which we talked about earlier and artificial sweeteners, which are our next bladder irritants. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin and these things are also considered bladder irritants and can make the bladder contract more.
So other bladder irritants, there’s really very little data on the rest of these and so you guys have to pay attention and see how your bladder reacts when it eats the or drink some of these things. So they can include spicy foods or Acidic foods like grapefruit. What you can do is just pay attention and try to limit them in your diet. As in I would say take one away at a time and see if it helps if it doesn’t put it back in your diet. Well if you want I’ve also made a link down below where you can read about 12 Healthiest Foods You Should Eat In The Morning. If after experimenting with all these bladder irritants and you are still having problems well make sure you go to see your doctor or your local urologist so they can help you out take care of yourself because you’re worth it.