Some people are suspicious of diet soda. They distrust the chemicals in its artificial sweeteners and cite studies linking diet soda to a greater risk of obesity.

But there’s another reason you may want to think twice about diet soft drinks: they might make symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB) worse.

Diet soda isn’t the only thing that people with OAB may be sensitive to. For example, many common fruits and vegetables may trigger urinary incontinence in some cases, as could spicy foods or even chocolate. But these sensitivities vary from person to person.

What’s in diet soda

You might think that a drink with no sugar, fat, or calories wouldn’t bother your bladder. But as this article mentions, diet sodas typically have three possible strikes against them:

Caffeine. Found in diet colas and some other diet sodas, caffeine may stimulate the bladder and may also cause your body to make more urine.

Carbonation. Fizzy, bubbly beverages irritate some bladders. Besides diet soda, beware of sparkling waters or wines and other carbonated drinks.

Sweeteners. Both sugar and artificial sweeteners may set off OAB symptoms, so choosing diet soda doesn’t eliminate this risk.

Researchers say that diet soda may be more likely than carbonated water or ordinary soft drinks to increase the feelings of urgency and frequency that are all too familiar to those with OAB.

To drink or not to drink

Should you stop drinking diet soda? If you think you may be sensitive to its possible effects, there’s a simple way to help you find out. Try eliminating it from your diet for a week or two and see if it makes a difference. If so, you can try adding a little diet soda back in to see if you can tolerate some without worsening OAB symptoms.

This technique works with any food or drink that you think may be causing problems. But it’s important to only eliminate one thing at a time. If you cut out several things all at once, you won’t know which is the culprit.

As always, let your doctor know about any changes in your bladder symptoms, and talk over any diet changes you’re considering in advance.

To learn more about overactive bladder:
Why Does Diabetes Cause Overactive Bladder?
Overactive Bladder? 8 Lifestyle Changes to Help Reduce Symptoms