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The Rollin' RN's

Don't Make My UTI Symptoms Worse! Foods to Avoid!

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are on everyone’s mind when catheters must be used to empty our bladder. And that’s because most of us have had at least one UTI, if not more. The Rollin’ RNs wrote this article, “UTIs: Another Annoyance of SCI” with helpful hints for trying to steer clear of a UTI. But are there foods that should be avoided that could lessen symptoms when we get one? While some studies have shown that certain beverages and dietary patterns may increase susceptibility to UTIs, there’s limited research on how certain foods and beverages can limit the length or severity of a UTI. So here we are with some dietary choices that you may want to avoid or limit when you feel a UTI coming on or if you’ve already been diagnosed with one.

Acidic foods: Fruit is an essential part of a healthy diet, but fruits and foods containing acid can irritate the bladder and worsen your UTI symptoms. Limit your consumption of tomatoes and citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits when you're dealing with a UTI. But after your UTI has been treated, reintroduce lemons to your diet to help prevent a new UTI as mentioned in our article.

Alcohol: You may already know that beer, wine, and liquor can irritate your stomach if you have gastric reflux or an ulcer. But did you know that alcohol can irritate the bladder too, particularly when you have a bladder infection? It’s also especially important to increase fluids, primarily water, to help flush the bladder when you have a UTI. Not only can alcohol irritate the bladder at this time, but can also cause dehydration making it even more difficult to flush the infection through your urinary tract.

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners: One study found that artificial sweeteners increased bladder symptoms in people with chronic or persistent bladder infections, but there's no real proof they irritate the bladder when you have an occasional UTI. However, any type of sugar whether it is direct sugar or an artificial sweetener increases bacterial growth and may cause your UTI symptoms to worsen. So, if these fake sweeteners bother you, skip them.

Caffeine: Caffeine can irritate the bladder and intensify bladder infection symptoms. A study found that people who drank coffee or caffeinated sodas experienced worsened symptoms. Another study of 30 women found that reducing irritating foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, alcohol, and carbonated and artificially sweetened beverages, reduced lower urinary tract symptoms, including how urgently and frequently they needed to urinate. And in 2019 a study in older adults living at nursing homes found that increasing hydration to support the daily fluid intake recommendation of 6–8 glasses of water per day reduced UTIs requiring antibiotics by 58% and UTIs requiring hospital admission by 36%. That said, continue to drink clear fluids. primarily water, and avoid sugary, caffeinated drinks. If you really crave a caffeinated drink, try a mug of noncaffeinated herbal tea until you are UTI-free.

Spicy Foods: Spicy foods are known to irritate the bladder and increase UTI symptoms. Opt for blander choices while treating a urinary tract infection and avoid the jalapenos and other spicy peppers until clear.

Bottom line: Although some studies show that certain dietary changes may help lower your risk of UTIs and reduce certain bladder-related symptoms, research in this area is currently lacking. Therefore, we have provided some informational guidelines so each of you can decide if your dietary choices aggravate your individual urinary system or not because UTIs are bad enough without our food options creating more irritability.

It’s all good, so keep on rollin’.

Patty, BSN, RNC and Roberta, RN

The Rollin’ RNs ™


Can Your Diet Affect Your Chances of Getting a UTI?


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