Bladder Irritation and Identifying Symptoms

For this Conversations with Clinicians segment, Cheryl Hutton (a wound, ostomy and continence nurse (WOC nurse) with CHC Solutions, Inc.) answers common questions and dives into what you need to know about bladder irritation.

“Some foods and beverages can irritate the bladder and increase symptoms related to bladder emptying and incontinence,” says Hutton.

What Are Common Symptoms of Bladder Irritation?

Bladder irritation causes physical symptoms related to urination:

  • A strong urge to pass urine (urgency)
  • The need to urinate more often (frequency)
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

Could a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Cause Bladder Irritation?

Sometimes problems in the urinary tract cause bladder irritation. A urinary tract infection can cause short-term (temporary) discomfort and urgency. Also, bladder irritation can aggravate urinary incontinence issues.

Bladder irritation by itself is not usually an emergency. However, if you are running a fever and have chills or pain in your lower back or side, visit your healthcare provider immediately.

Do Certain Foods Irritate the Bladder?

The bladder collects waste, including the remainder of foods and drinks. If you have a bladder condition, a variety of foods can irritate your bladder. Both common and unusual foods may cause irritation:

  • Beverages such as alcohol, apple juice, carbonated drinks, coffee and tea.
  • Certain fruits such as apples, bananas, cantaloupes, citrus fruits, grapes and pineapple.
  • A variety of other foods such as nuts, cheese, chocolate, mayonnaise and onions.

How Are Bladder-Irritating Foods Identified?

Determining if a food irritates your bladder is a process of elimination. It is important to note that not all people sensitive to bladder irritants are affected by the same foods. Your healthcare provider can help you identify bladder-irritating foods.

First, to determine what foods irritate your bladder, you can eliminate certain foods from your diet. After that, test your bladder discomfort. Then if you are experiencing less discomfort, that product may be irritating your bladder. Follow these tips:

  • Try to remove a food/drink listed above from your diet for a few days. Then reintroduce it and track the results.
  • Keep a diary to track foods/drinks that are and are not irritating.
  • Once you have come to a consensus on a food/drink, you can try another. Start in small amounts by maybe eliminating one or a couple products at a time. Then when reintroducing, start small, and increase the portion size over several days. If irritation returns after reintroducing a food, you can stop eating it completely.

Also, feel free to send us any questions you have regarding bladder irritation by emailing our WOC nurse, Cheryl Hutton, at

To learn more about bladder irritants, visit

*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.