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Foods That Aggravate Urinary Retention

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Foods That Aggravate Urinary Retention
You may find that acidic fruits such as grapefruit are difficult to tolerate. Photo Credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Not being able to fully relieve your bladder is not only uncomfortable but can also be dangerous, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. While no direct connection exists between diet and urinary retention, certain foods may aggravate your bladder. Consult your doctor to discuss how diet might affect your health when it comes to bladder control.

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Constipating Foods

Constipation can cause urinary retention, and avoiding foods that cause constipation and including foods that improve bowel movements may help your condition. To prevent constipation and aggravation of urinary retention, avoid processed foods such as white bread, sweets, hot dogs, french fries and fast food. Instead, eat more whole, high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Skipping meals may also increase risk of constipation, and you should avoid missing meals when you have urinary retention.

Artificial Sweeteners

People with urinary retention often feel discomfort and pressure in the lower abdominal area. The National Association of Continence says that artificial sweeteners, including saccharin, aspartame and acesulfame K, may increase bladder discomfort. A 2006 study published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology found that these sugar substitutes increased bladder contractions in rats. But human studies are necessary to determine if the artificial sweeteners have the same effect in people as they do in the rats, and whether they aggravate your condition may depend on your individual response to these types of foods.

Acidic and Spicy Foods

NAFC also reports that some people complain of bladder issues with acidic and spicy foods. Acidic foods include citrus fruit and juice, pineapple, vinegars and tomatoes and tomato products. Spicy foods include hot peppers, curry, chili sauce and powder, barbecue sauce and horseradish as well as cuisines known to be spicy, such as Mexican, Thai and Indian. Whether you need to avoid acidic or spicy foods may depend on how they affect you individually. Keeping a food diary and monitoring your symptoms can help you identify the foods that cause problems.

Caffeinated Foods and Drinks

As a diuretic, caffeine may aggravate symptoms associated with urinary retention, such as urgency. Caffeine occurs in a variety of different foods, including chocolate, coffee and tea. NAFC reports that limiting your intake of caffeine to 100 milligrams a day may reduce symptoms. For reference, 1 cup of coffee has 135 milligrams to 200 milligrams of caffeine, 1 cup of tea has 15 milligrams to 50 milligrams and one piece of sweet chocolate has 19 milligrams.

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