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Can Soda Cause Bladder Infections?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Can Soda Cause Bladder Infections?
Ditch the fizzy stuff to prevent bladder irritation. Photo Credit: Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images

If you have a history of bladder infections, it's a good idea to steer clear of soda until your condition improves. While soda does not cause bladder infections, it can aggravate your symptoms. Bladder infections occur when bacteria migrate into the bladder, causing symptoms such as discomfort in the lower abdomen and increased urinary frequency. Talk to your doctor about changes you can make to reduce your risk and relieve symptoms.

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Diet and Urinary Irritation

A bladder infection occurs in the upper part of the urinary tract. It typically starts as an infection in the lower urinary tract that isn't caught in time, allowing the bacteria to migrate further up the urinary tract and progress to a bladder infection. When you start having lower urinary tract symptoms, you may be able to reduce the risk of it progressing by making some dietary changes. Researchers found a benefit to limiting soda, artificial sweeteners and caffeinated beverages, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2013.

Carbonation and Bladder Irritation

If you're prone to bladder infections, avoid soda during flare-ups. The carbonation in soda can irritate your bladder, causing discomfort or increased urinary urgency. The Cleveland Clinic recommends avoiding soda and other carbonated beverages until your symptoms improve. At that time, slowly reintroduce soda or other carbonated beverages, based on your tolerance. You can also replace soda with nonirritating beverages such as cranberry juice, which happens to be beneficial for the urinary tract.

Caffeine Aggravation

The caffeine commonly found in soda may aggravate your bladder symptoms. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it increases the amount of urine your kidneys make. The increased urine production makes your bladder more active, an effect that may increase your symptoms. In addition, the increased fluid loss raises the risk of dehydration, which also aggravates bladder infections. Avoid not just soda but all caffeinated beverages if you have bladder issues, recommends Loma Linda Medical Center.

Other Bladder-Aggravating Aspects of Soda

The acidity of soda irritates the bladder. Citrus-flavored soda is particularly acidic, so flavors such as lemon, lime and tangerine may pose a problem. Food coloring used in soda can also have a negative effect on your bladder issues, so it's best to steer clear. Diet soda is additionally problematic because it usually contains artificial sweeteners. In animal experiments, artificial sweeteners increase bladder pressure and bladder muscle contraction, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology. Avoid artificial sweeteners in soda and other foods during bladder flare-ups.

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