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Does Seltzer irritate the bladder? Here’s what experts say

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There are some things I just do not want to know – like the fact that my favorite seltzer may not be the best solution because it can irritate my bladder.

Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas, DPT, CLT, a pelvic floor physiotherapist in Boston, posted a video on TikTok explaining why sparkling water is irritating to the bladder – one she says could “contribute to your bladder cravings and frequency.” Not surprisingly, the majority of the video’s 350,000+ viewers were not so thrilled that she recommended keeping the consumption of sparkling water (and other non-water drinks) at only 25 percent of your daily fluid intake for optimal bladder health. But the urologists must be right. Sipping seltzer like water all day every day is definitely not a good idea.

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It is perhaps not so surprising that coffee and alcohol came on the list of bladder irritants. “Caffeine is probably the most common and worst offender,” says Lamia Gabal, MD, a urologist in Santa Ana, California. “It is a diuretic, so it makes your body make more urine. Caffeine is also a bladder stimulant, so it makes your bladder squeeze harder and in smaller amounts.” And according to Austin DeRosa, MD, a urologist and urological oncologist at UCHealth Cancer Center-Highlands Ranch in Colorado, the same goes for alcohol, spicy and / or acidic foods – even chocolate.

… But what’s wrong with a little bubbling water?

Why seltzer irritates the bladder, according to a urologist

The problem, according to Dr. DeRosa, is the carbon dioxide content of seltzer. “The carbon dioxide in sparkling water tends to irritate the lining of the bladder,” he says. “Carbonated drinks do not cause damage to your bladder per se, but they can cause an exacerbation of underlying bladder symptoms.” So brushing sparkling water instead of plain water can result in bladder pain and urgent and frequent urination – especially for anyone who already has a sensitive, irritating bladder or urgent symptoms.

If you think your love for seltzer can affect your bladder health, says Dr. Gabal that you should remove it – and the other common bladder irritants – from your diet. “Then slowly add things back, one at a time, to determine if your bladder is sensitive to these things,” she says. But if you can not go a day without it, just make sure you do not drink it all day long. Dr. DeRosa says that if you get two to three liters of fluid – preferably water – a day, having a small seltzer should not be a big deal.

It is also worth emphasizing that if you have bladder irritation on a regular basis, the fact that food and drink can work for or against urinary health should be welcome news; it gives you an element of control. But both urologists confirm that it is always a good idea to troubleshoot a urologist or primary care physician. It is literally their job to make sure that people live a life without bladder irritation. And they can help you do that in a way where you are still able to enjoy all your favorite foods and drinks.

Here’s what a registered dietitian wants you to know about spiked seltzer:

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