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Bladder Spasm and UTI Symptoms Not Caused by Bacteria: What Worked for Me

Updated on January 13, 2017
Sherry Hewins profile image

I have always been interested in health issues and healing. I am an obsessive researcher and label reader.

Woman in pain
Woman in pain | Source

Urinary Tract Symptoms Without Bacteria

You go to the doctor with what you're sure is a bladder infection, only to find out it's not. A urinalysis shows that there is no bacteria present. So what now?

Antibiotics won't help; in fact, they may make things worse. Often a doctor will prescribe antibiotics for UTI symptoms without performing a urinalysis, but that can be a mistake if you're actually dealing with a condition such as bladder spasm or, worse yet, interstitial cystitis. After what I have been through, I would recommend that you insist on a urinalysis before taking antibiotics for urinary symptoms.

Through research and trial and error, I found the things that worked for me. I now have been symptom-free for over a year and a half, and I am not taking any medications.

Many women find themselves in a situation like the one I have described at some point in their lives. Their GP or Gynecologist may not be very knowledgeable about it. Trying to get information about urinary symptoms that are not caused by bacteria and getting the appropriate treatment can be very frustrating.

Bladder Spasm

The urologist I went to called my problem "bladder spasm," and he took great pains to explain to me how difficult it is to find the cause and right treatment for symptoms like urinary frequency and urgency. He also said that many women have episodes of bladder spasm at some time in their lives, but recover from it completely.

Subjects I Will Cover

  • Symptoms
  • First Aid
  • What to Avoid
  • Intertstitial Cystitis
  • Seeing a Urologist
  • Don't Lose Hope
  • Healing an Irritated Bladder - What worked for Me
  • Common Food Triggers
  • What to Eat
  • Helpful Supplements
  • Help and Support

The Symptoms of Bladder Spasm

Urinary frequency and urgency; urethral burning and pelvic pain.

In my experience, most doctors, especially male doctors, do not perceive these symptoms in a female as a serious medical matter, certainly not an emergency. After all, your vital signs are all fine, an examination doesn't find anything amiss, nothing is showing up in your blood or urine. Therefore, you're fine.

It's easy to get overwhelmed and very emotional when this happens. You're extremely uncomfortable, it's very hard to get any sleep, and you're physically and emotionally frazzled. But try to get a grip on yourself.

If you show up at a doctors office in that condition, it will be even harder to be taken seriously. (In fact, when I showed up at the ER in tears, I was prescribed Xanax by a doctor who obviously thought I was just hysterical.) Also, the pain cycle can feed on itself, and the more emotionally worked up you get, the worse you may feel. Believe me, it will get better.

Bladder First Aid

I'll get into more details later, but if you are suffering right now, this is what I would do:

  • Drink Baking Soda Mixed With Water - The first line of defense for me is to drink 1/4 tsp of baking soda (do not exceed two teaspoons of baking soda a day) dissolved in a small amount of water. This neutralizes the acid in your urine. I started feeling better within 10 minutes. I read about it in a book, and it helped me much more than anything any of the doctors I had been going to for months had.
  • Take a Hot Bath - I found a soaking in a hot tub to be very palliative.
  • Relax your Pelvic Floor Muscles - The muscle you want to relax is the same muscle you work when doing Kegel exercises. Locate the muscle you use to stop your urine flow by tightening it once, then consciously relax it. It seems like it's too simple, but I was really surprised how much better this made me feel.
  • Don't Strain When You Urinate - You've probably been straining to empty every drop when you urinate; try not to do that, it's making things worse. The muscles in that area are all tense, and the nerves are overstimulated. You need to calm them down

Baking Soda
Baking Soda

Stop Drinking Cranberry Juice!

DO NOT DRINK ANY CRANBERRY JUICE or other fruit juice, it is very acidic and will irritate your bladder. Many people who develop these symptoms have been drinking large quantities of cranberry juice; if you are doing so, stop immediately.

Avoid Acidic Food and Drink

  • Immediately stop consuming all carbonated drinks, alcohol and coffee.
  • Do not eat any chocolate.
  • Drink plenty of plain water, but do not force yourself to drink gallons. Simply drink a glass whenever you think about it.

I give a more comprehensive list of Trigger Foods toward the end of this article.

What To Avoid: Don't Sabotage Yourself

Don't give in and reach for the foods that are hurting you. I really sabotaged myself for a while because I would not give up that one cup of coffee in the morning. Once I got past that, I started to get better. Don't undermine your recovery with that one glass of wine or cup of coffee, the way I did. Just stop. If all goes well, this will be a temporary situation. You can go back to enjoying those things later, but for now, you have to get this situation under control.

Instead of your regular acidic indulgences, milk or vanilla ice cream can be pleasant and very soothing. Make sure you get a brand of ice cream that does not contain a lot of chemicals.

Some Hot Drinks You Can Have

I used to have hot Vanilla Milk in the morning instead of coffee. Just put a drop of pure vanilla extract, and a little sugar or honey in a mug of hot milk. Some other options are Marshmallow Root, Chamomile or Catnip tea. They are usually well tolerated, and can be beneficial. Make your teas weak until you are sure they don't bother you. Sometimes, just sipping a cup of hot water is comforting, and it helps keep you hydrated.


What's Wrong with Me? Could It Be Interstitial Cystitis?

The answer to that question is maybe, but maybe not.

If you are researching these symptoms on the Internet, or talking to your doctor, you may have heard of interstitial cystitis (IC). It is a chronic inflammation of the lining of the bladder.

If you have urinary frequency and urgency, urethral burning, and pelvic pain, you probably have cystitis, which is bladder inflammation. If it doesn't go away and no other cause can be found for it, then it may be interstitial cystitis.

Interstitial cystitis is often mistaken for a urinary tract infection. Patients may go as long as four years between the time they first experience symptoms and the time they receive their diagnosis. It most commonly affects women, although men can get it too.

IC is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions, such as bladder infections or bladder cancer. Also, when it is advanced, it can be diagnosed by cystoscopy, as there will be visible ulcers on the lining of the bladder. For a cystoscopy, you will have to see a urologist.

IC is a chronic condition. Just because you have urinary symptoms without bacteria does not mean that you have IC. It is a possibility, but many people, especially women, have these symptoms yet they recover completely.

Seeing a Urologist

Once your GP recognizes that you don't have a garden-variety bladder infection, you will probably be referred to a urologist. All of this takes time, and it will likely be a couple of months before you actually see the urologist. Usually the first thing he will want to do is a cystoscopy, for which a tube with a camera on the end is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to examine it. My urologist made an appointment for me to have that test, but it was six weeks away. He said that if I got better before then, I should call and cancel.

The idea of that test really freaked me out, given the way I was feeling. And reading the interstitial cystitis forums I found online, I wasn't optimistic about the outcome. I didn't see a lot of positive comments about how great things were after the diagnosis. Everyone seemed to be on a lot of drugs that were marginally effective at controlling their symptoms, and it sounded like a life sentence to me, one of those conditions you just have to live with.

Don't Lose Hope

Now, looking back, I think most people who get over their problems never go back to the forum to share their story, so just because you don't see many success stories doesn't mean they don't exist. I did get some good advice for dietary changes and supplements from the IC forum, but I had to do a lot of digging. Here, I've tried to condense the information that helped me to make it more accessible for someone having a first experience with bladder irritation.

I never did have the cystoscopy. I was able to get my symptoms under control and opted not to have it. The cause of interstitial cystitis is mysterious, and I was never diagnosed with it, but I feel as though if I had continued to irritate my bladder, I could have developed this chronic condition.

From my reading and research, it sounds like it's important to get your symptoms under control early. Dietary changes when you first experience symptoms can prevent your condition from progressing. Patients who have had an irritated bladder for a longer period of time experience less relief from dietary changes.

If, despite your best effort, you don't get better, by all means have the test. If it turns out you do have interstitial cystitis, there are medications and treatments that may be beneficial to you.

Healing an Irritated Bladder: What Worked for Me

The healthy bladder is coated with a mucosal tissue called the glycosaminoglycan layer, generally referred to as the GAG layer. This layer protects the bladder from direct contact with the urine that it contains. The GAG layer can become damaged by bacteria or other trauma, such as pelvic surgery, repeated infections, or a complicated pregnancy. I went on a regimen designed to heal the GAG layer.

First of all, go on a low-acid diet. If you look up Interstitial Cystitis diet or IC diet, you will get a lot of varying advice on this. Different people seem to have different triggers. The ones I mention below in the "Common Food Triggers" section should be avoided. Most of them definitely affected me.

One book I read said, "If you wouldn't put it on an open wound, don't eat it," and this resonated with me. So things like hot spices, lemon and vinegar would be off limits. If I ate acidic food, I could feel it within 10 minutes, burning my bladder.

This list is a good starting point. Pay attention to you body. If you feel worse, ask yourself, "What did I eat?"

Common Food Triggers

Spicy foods are one of the triggers that may cause your symptoms to worsen.
Spicy foods are one of the triggers that may cause your symptoms to worsen.

Foods to Avoid for Bladder Spasm or IC

  • Cranberry
  • Fruits other than pears
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Spicy foods
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Aspartame
  • Aged cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Yogurt
  • Corned beef
  • Cured meats like salami, bacon, or ham
  • Vinegar
  • Salad dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lentils
  • Tree nuts
  • Onions
  • Soy
  • Preservatives
  • Artificial flavors
  • Vitamin Supplements - Especially Vitamin C

You Don't Have to Live with Cystitis
You Don't Have to Live with Cystitis

This is one of the best books I have found about how to deal with urinary tract problems. It offers a lot of good advice about how to change your diet to relieve the pain cystitis can cause.


What to Eat

Most vegetables, meats, breads, and dairy products will be fine.
Most vegetables, meats, breads, and dairy products will be fine.

It can be hard, with just a list of things you can't have, to figure out what to eat. There are plenty of foods you can still eat.

  • Any meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish is OK, except cured meats like bacon or salami.
  • Most vegetables other than tomatoes, onions, or hot peppers are fine.
  • You can still eat bread, other than rye and sourdough.
  • Dairy foods including milk, butter, cottage cheese, American cheese, and vanilla ice cream work. You can start adding some of the milder aged cheeses in small amounts once you start feeling better.
  • Pasta, rice, and most cereals are OK.
  • Salads can be a problem because of the dressing, but you can try them with herb infused olive oil and coarse salt.

When you feel better, start slowly adding foods one at a time. It can be tempting to just go back to your regular eating pattern, but you don't want to have to start over. I started with a little mayonnaise on my sandwich because I really missed it.

Add one food at a time, and take it very slowly.

What Supplements I Used

Based on what I read in books and researched on the Internet, I used the supplements and products listed below:

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin (400 mg 3x per day): It coats the GAG layer, giving it a chance to heal.
  • Calcium Citrate + Vitamin D (200 mg 2x per day): It helps your body excrete oxalates more efficiently this helps prevent vulvodynia, an associated condition which is also very unpleasant.
  • Bromelain (100 GDU 3x per day): Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme.
  • Quercetin (100 mg 3x per day): Quercetin is another anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Prelief: Prelief is an antacid that you can take before eating acidic foods. I would not recommend eating acidic foods, even with it, until you get your symptoms somewhat under control. But I did use it occasionally as a precautionary measure if I needed to eat out, and I used it more often as my bladder improved and I was able to return to a more normal diet.

You might want to start off with the glucosamine and chondroitin and work your way down the list. add one supplement at a time and wait a few days before adding the next one, just to make sure it's not a trigger for you. I used 21st Century, Glucosamine 250 mg, Chondroitin 200 mg, just because it doesn't have a lot of extra ingredients in it. I don't think the brand matters so much, but look out for added vitamin C in some of them.

One prescription medication I took for a short time that did help me was Ditropan (oxybutynin chloride). It is supposed to relax your bladder muscles to prevent urgent, frequent urination. At first, I was taking 5 mg a day, and it wasn't helping. But when my doctor raised it to 10 mg a day, it gave me some relief.

This Is Based on My Personal Experience

I am not a medical professional. I only want to share my experience in the hope that it helps someone else who is going through this. Every person and every bladder is different. As my urologist pointed out to me, there are many things that can cause the same symptoms, and the cause of bladder pain can be hard to diagnose. What worked for me may not work for you. If it doesn't, don't give up; keep trying until you find something that does.

If you're really suffering right now, you're probably having a flare. It won't last forever; it will pass. It will take time for your bladder to heal, so don't expect a miracle cure overnight. I have experienced two flares that lasted several months each. I am able to eat a normal diet now, even coffee and chocolate. But if I had to give them up forever to prevent that kind of pain, it would be well worth it. Now I know what I have to do when that feeling comes back.

Some Seasonal Advice

It is December 21 when I am writing this, and I am seeing a spike in visits to this page. That is making me recall the time when I had my very worst flair. It was Christmas time, and the office was full of tasty treats. I love chocolate, and I was not able to resist the lure. If you are suffering right now, and you are eating a lot of chocolate, please stop!

I know it's hard, but nothing is worth that kind of suffering. Give yourself a gift for Christmas. The gift of healing!

© 2012 Sherry Hewins


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    • thank you for this info it has really helped me 8 days ago

      thank you this info really helped me

    • Deborah 9 days ago

      Thank you for putting this out there. You saved me. I went alkaline and bland and within five days was 75% better. Within three weeks 90%. Unbelievable that we do not always think to consider the food we eat and what it can be doing to our bodies.

      So thank you. I just wanted u to know.

    • Pauline 12 days ago

      I'm waiting for a hip replacement so I have ALOT of hip pain, I've waited two years now and lots of painkillers. However, ended up with burning sensation in my bladder for the last six months, so I'm going to try your diet recommendations and see if they work for me, I'm on my sixth lot of antibiotics which I don't like taking so I'm going to try your recommendations. Thank you

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 12 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Cathy - So sorry your symptoms came back, but you got better before, you can do it again.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 12 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Katie - Congratulations on your baby! I hope your symptoms resolve very soon.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 12 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Debbie, I wouldn't go with flavored chips of any kind. Plain potato chips with just salt is probably OK in moderation.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 12 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Kelly, I am able to drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning without discomfort. If I have a hint of a symptom though, it's the first thing to go.

    • Debbie 12 days ago

      I do a strict vegan fast every January. I have been eating tons of fruit and vegetables. I thought I had a UTI. I have been drinking lots of coffee everyday to stay awake during my 16 hour days. I have been taking lots of vitamins including vit C. Oh my goodness. I have been eating lots of assorted nuts, onions, and soy. Wow who knew? I have to be careful. I am sticking with oatmeal with honey and baked potatoes with olive oil. What about garlic salt and potato chips? Thanks

    • Kelly 2 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for your article. I am going to quit coffee tomorrow. Just curios...have you gone back?

    • Katie 2 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for this!!! After having a baby 2 months ago I started having burning and frequency with no sign of infection. I went to a urologist and had a cysto who thinks I'm having urethral spasms due to my urethra being even shorter than most women and put me on Oxybutynin. I really feel like it was helping (and I had avoided caffeine and alcohol for a full month) on my first day feeling symptom free I had a cup of coffee, and here I go again! I am sticking to your advice and I truly believe things will be ok eventually

    • Cathy 2 weeks ago

      I had this problem about 15 years ago and it completely resolved. I have had spasms and pain for over a month now and saw a urologist a week ago. He asked me if I wanted to go on medication and I said no for the time being. I am trying to remember everything that helped me before. I forgot how absolutely consuming this constant discomfort can be. I'm thankful that I found your tips and will be using htem.

    • Claire 2 weeks ago

      I have had like a spasm just when I pass urine and when my bladder is full as soon as it is empty I feel fine again , had it a while , antibiotics haven't touched it , had cystitis in the past and it's not like that , been worrying about it until I read this , wondering if this is what I have ??

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 3 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Laura Whip - I had two major flares, each one lasting 4-5 months. I don't know if the second one would have ever ended had I not given up that one cup of coffee. The IC diet list is only a starting point, but that is where I would start.

      If you feel better, and reintroduce yogurt to your diet, then you'll know if it's OK for you. If you are strict with your diet, and you don't get better, then you will have to do a bit of detective work to find out what the irritant is.

      Some people swear by a gluten free diet for IC. I didn't give up gluten, and I got better. However, if you've given the IC diet a good try, and it's not helping, maybe gluten free is worth a try.

      Unfortunately, medical science does not have a lot of answers for us, so we have to find our own way as best we can. There is a lot of good advice in these comments. Check out cw/me's comment below.

      I know it's not easy, but you are not the only one struggling with this. I hope you find your own path to health and relief.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 3 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Laura Whip - That's fine, a lot of people are confused about that, but this site permits everyone to comment, member or not.

      cw/me - You make some great points. Some foods are common triggers, but not everyone reacts to the same foods. Thanks for adding this great information.

    • cw/me 3 weeks ago

      Hey Sherry, hope you are well. I just wanted to pop in here again for a minute because I know people are asking why they can't eat this or that food and sometimes look for a blanket explanation that applies to everyone.

      The truth, as you know, is that bladder reactions are very different from individual to individual. Sure there are a handful of foods and beverages that are known to cause irritation like yogurt, tomatoes, juices, coffee, etc. However, other foods you might find listed as "usually safe" on various IC diet lists may NOT be safe for you.

      I found this out the hard way. After six months of suffering and reacting to various foods, it can be assumed I probably do have IC, but I think I am slowly getting better because I spend much less time in a painful burning flare mode and can exercise far more than I ever thought possible without pain, and I find it even alleviates a flareup when I am exercising. Many doctors proved useless along the way as to how this horrible disorder should be treated, and I needed to do a ton of research and experimentation to reach the reasonably tolerable point I am at now.

      I've gotten very good at identifying a number of foods I can eat, and added a decent amount of pain-free food in the last six months. Now, each new food is introduced as scientifically as possible, one at a time, and tried for anywhere from two days to two weeks, since some cause flareups immediately while others take time before the offending chemicals build up in the system.

      A couple articles I wanted to share helped me figure out why certain foods are extremely painful for me yet are supposed to be "bladder friendly". I suffered severe pain with bananas, yogurt, and nuts specifically, among other things, but I wondered if the foods that caused the worst problems might share some similar properties and it turned out all of the ones I react to do fall into an offending group. They are part of a class of foods containing "AAA", which is an acronym identifying a specific grouping of amino acids. These 2 articles provide detailed info and tables identfying the foods that contain these amino acids.

      It isn't enough to merely avoid acidic foods and coffee and other established culprits and expect every other thing you eat or drink will be just fine. There are many other seemingly innocent foods out there that can harm you if your bladder is susceptible to them.

      I hope this info helps someone! And of course the foods on the AAA list aren't the only ones an IC bladder might react to. However there are several listed here that I've seen on so-called "safe" lists and I thought I should make the point that only your bladder has the final word on what is safe for you, so don't rely too heavily on IC lists you might come across. They should just be looked at as a starting point.

      Sending you healing thoughts and prayers :)


    • Laura Whip 3 weeks ago

      Thank you, Sherry. Sorry I didnt think my first post had actually posted because I didn't have an account. I appreciate your help a lot. You really have been a source of comfort. I appreciate it so much. Can I ask you, how long you were dealing with the problem? Again sorry for the questions, just helps hear from someone who has gone through it.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 3 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      New to this condition - My problems started with frequency; I had to pee often, but not much at a time. Over time I got sore, and the sensation became more painful. I didn't have headaches, but did have low back pain. I had a lot of trouble sleeping. I did use Azo, it was not great, but helped a little. I use Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, but any brand would probably do. Yogurt was on the list of high-acid food on the IC diet, (from the IC forum) so that's what I went by.

    • Laura Whip 3 weeks ago

      Good Morning Sherry,

      Thank you for your information. This was encouraging and a little bit of relief. I have yet to be diagnosed with a condition. I have been dealing with issues for the past two months and have had inconclusive answers on whats going on. I thought I had an UTI so went to the doctor and had a dipstick test that came back positive for trace leukocytes in my urine. I was put on antibiotics but had continued problems. They gave me two more rounds of antibiotics with urine cultures and dipsticks coming back negative. During the last dose of antibiotics, I became super ill. I was super nauseous and weak, with diagnosed sinusitis and acute vaginitis. But still super sick and missed a full week of my internship because of feeling ill. During the time, I had burning after I urinated and urgency to pee. I wouldnt necessarily always equate the urgency to pain but just irritating and uncomfortable. Other times it is painful and even seems to make me feel nauseous. I have been to the ER and Dr. They both threw out terms saying that it could be endometriosis or interstitial cystitis. The burning after I pee has subsided and I really just have the urgency to pee and that uncomfortable feeling. The feeling comes frequently but I try and wait to pee some so that I don't go all the time.

      I know that stress and certain foods can irritate it more. The last month in particular has been super stressful, so I am trying to take this next week to do nothing but relax, do some yoga because i heard that helps, and take care of myself before the appointment. I am a student and the most stressful semester starts next Thursday so trying to prepare myself for that as well. I have restricted my diet, mainly because of the GI issues from the antibiotics. I started to eat some things that maybe weren't the best for me and it seems like that has irritated things again. So I thank you for your comments about certain foods. I am going to try and stick to that as best as I can. My urology appointment is next week so I am trying to do things to calm it down. I am also trying to keep a diary to track my urine/water intake/and diet. Just to keep myself regimented and to give the dr a report hopefully.

      I had a question about the yogurt though? I have been eating yogurt for the past 2-3 weeks because of the GI issues and trying to get my flora back to normal. Why shouldn't I eat yogurt? What is the reason?

      Also, I was wondering what type of baking soda did you use? Is there a certain brand I should purchase?

      Did you ever use AZO pills (not the cranberry ones but just the pain reducing/urgency reducing ones)?

      How did your issue start? How long did it bother you? What were your flare ups like? Did you feel nauseous with it ever? Did you have severe headaches? Did you have low back pain? How long did it take until you started feeling better:

      Sorry for all the questions but just trying to better understand the condition. Thank you again for writing this post and giving very important information to people like me. It really did ease my nerves and lowered my stress. Any additional information you can give me would be much appreciated! Thanks again!!

    • New to this condition 3 weeks ago

      Good morning Sherry,

      Thank you for sharing your information! I really appreciate the positivity. I have yet to be diagnosed with IC but I have been to multiple doctors over the past couple months and 2 have suggested going to a urologist and getting checked out. This was a sudden onset of symptoms, starting the beginning of November. I thought it was a first dipstick came back positive with trace leukocytes but from there the tests came back negative. The dr prescribed me two more courses of antibiotics and now my GI tract is in need of repairing as well. I see a urologist in a week. That's the earliest I could get in. Your tips will help me a lot.

      I was wondering if there was a brand of baking soda that I should use? Did you have use the pain pills AZO (not with cranberry, just pain pills)?

      I was wondering about the yogurt? Why should I avoid that? I have been eating it frequently due to the GI issues and trying to regain the proper flora in my intestines. I don't think it has caused increased pain or anything... but do you know why you shouldn't?

      I was also wondering what your initial symptoms were? How did it start for you? And what exactly happened with your flare ups?

      Did you get nauseous from it? Did you have severe headaches? Did you have low back pain? Trying to understand this and have a better grasp before seeing the urologist.

      Sorry so many questions. Thank you so much for your time.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Congrats Ella90. I'm so glad to hear that you are not in pain!

    • Ella90 4 weeks ago

      I have had recurring IC for the last 6 years and honestly thought I just had a sensitive urethra as my urine tests found no bacteria. I had one doctor tell me to just have Ural sachets everyday, which of course was no help. My partner was fed up with me being fed up and in pain so I looked into my symptoms further.

      Finding this article was the best thing that has happened to me. I've changed my diet and for the first time in years I have had an extended period of time without pain. It is amazing to go to the toilet and not be worried I'm going to be in pain. Thank you so much for all your information!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Chemist1957 - I'm so sorry to hear that you are having such an awful problem. If you are having pain to the extent that you are calling an ambulance, I wonder if you need further testing that you are not getting. I hope you are seeing a good urologist. I have had other mysterious medical conditions, and the cause was not found until I was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis and they kept doing tests until they found the problem. That's not a pleasant experience, but at least I got to the bottom of the problem. It's hard enough to get information about urinary tract problems in women, and they are much more common than for men. The diet I have recommended can't make things worse, it might make it better. I really feel for you, and I hope you get the help you need,

    • Chemist1957 4 weeks ago

      I'm a man and looking for info on urinary tract spasms. They are so painful I have to get an ambulance to the hospital. I'm having a big problem finding info for men. So I can due the diet. It's not medication, which am know on 7 different thing 4 of which are for my urinary tract. Thanks so much for you info.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I have not tried Teeccino. Some people on the IC forum have said they did OK with it, but everybody has different triggers. I would use caution at the beginning, just to make sure it doesn't bother you.

    • AJ 4 weeks ago

      Hi! Thanks for this article.. it's really helped me learn what to cut out of my diet. I have a question. I LOVE coffee, but it's definitely helping me not to drink it. What about Teeccino - it's natural, no caffeine, non acidic.. etc.

      I love having some sort of coffee like drink during my morning routine - wondering if this would be okay or not?

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Melanie V - I use 21st Century, Glucosamine 250 mg, Chondroitin 200 mg, Original Formula. It has few extra ingredients. It does contain shellfish, that's probably wouldn't affect your bladder problem, but it would be a concern for someone with allergies.

    • Melanie V 5 weeks ago

      Hi Sherry thank you for such a great article and taking the time to write it in order to help others. It has given me hope as I am currently dealing with IC. I bought the supplement glucosamine chondroitin but the specific product I bought has added ingredients such as Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) Powder for example plus more ingredients. Here is a link to the product if you want to see the full list of ingredients (you'll have to scroll down a little):

      My question is, do you recommend taking a supplement only containing glucosamine and chondroitin or do you think what I bought is ok? Would you mind sharing the exact product you take? Thank you so much for your time!

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      Sherry Hewins 5 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Katherine - I would stay away from the kefir too. Once you are doing well you can try adding it back in.

      As for the citrus, I got my advice from the IC forum and from reading books. That's what they recommended, and personal experience proved to me that they were right. I could tell within minutes of eating it that I'd done the wrong thing!

      I am not familiar with cacao nibs. I will say that I think eating chocolate was a big factor in my major flair. It was Christmas time, and people were always bringing it in to work. I can eat chocolate now, in moderation.

    • Katherine 5 weeks ago

      Out of all the diet advice from all the sites out there, this one actually showed signs off progress. I don't know if it's IC or OAB. I never had pain, just a very frightening and sudden need to urinate that very moment, no matter where I was. I'd squat down in the middle of a parking lot or grocery store aisle & no matter who might be watching, I'd immediately begin giving myself a pep talk ("You can do this. You can do this."). That lasted over a month, and then I found this article. So, now that I'm 90% better (with occasional 70% dips), I trust you & only you. I saw you said no yogurt, but milk is okay. How about whole milk kefir? And also, why no citrus (which is acidic, but alkalizes the body's pH)? Oh! Also curious to know your take on cacao nibs. It's not your typical chocolate (cacao vs. cocoa) and is a superfood. I'll check back daily for your response. It's much appreciated! You're amazing.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 8 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      It's different for everybody. The main thing I'd say is just don't be in a hurry. Just be glad it's going in a positive direction and make any dietary changes gradually. The worst thing you can do is go back to your old habits and have a setback.

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      Sherry Hewins 8 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      That's great advice Ann. When it comes to health care, we all have to be our own advocates.

    • elisabeth linde 8 weeks ago

      how long did it take for your symptoms to completely go away? mine hve started to get better and it has been two weeks but they have the healing has been slow. thanks for the article

    • Ann 8 weeks ago

      Hi all! I read this blog a couple months ago after having been thoroughly frustrated with these UTI symptoms. Make sure you request to be thoroughly tested by your doctor before you rule out bacteria. My doctors only went off a negative reading for UTI, chlamydia and gonarrhea and sent me to pelvic floor physical therapy and to a psychologist. I saw a new doctor and demanded that I get the test for ureaplasma. It was POSITIVE. Ureaplasma gives symptoms of UTI and IC to its host. Please get tested for this. I would have been able to skip a lot of pain, misery, and spending money if my first doctors just tested me for everything. I am happy I found an answer but also disappointed in the medical community. I am about 3 days into the doxy treatment and am feeling better. It can take weeks to get rid of this bacteria so get tested ASAP. Thanks!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 2 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      There is no hard rule about it. I think the main thing is to start slowly, and introduce one new thing at a time. That way, if you have a reaction, it will be easier to tell what caused it.

    • Rose sutherland 2 months ago

      Thankyou so much for this blog. My symptoms have finally settled how long should I wait before I try to introduce those foods on the list again. I tried too early and they came back.

    • Gia B 2 months ago

      Hi Ladies,

      Boy am I glad I found this blog & these comments. PLEASE help shed some light if you can on my situation as I am on the brink of insanity.

      So I got a UTI 2 months ago after having sex with my Husband. (I am 27 yrs old). I went got macro bid, cleared it up....then boom! came back... after that I took Cipro, didn't even help. Eventually the prominent UTI symptoms went away but a sharp burning sensation deep in my vagina is still left! Everytime my Husband and I have sex, the next day I will be in excruciating pain! I don't have frequency or burning during pee.. it burns after i have emptied my bladder. Now, to rule out sex... I masturbaed one day an the next day.. boom! same symptoms. Ive been to many doctors, ERs and doctors cannot find anything in my Blood, Urine, Vaginal Swabs. my urology appointment isn't for another 2 months..

      I am so sad that I cannot even be sexually aroused without any pain the next day. Does anyone have any light they can shed on this for me? Did anyone who had success treating with IC related issue continue to have sex now regularly without this flaring up again? I am young and healthy and now i feel like I've been cursed and cannot even enjoy my life. This is taking over my emotions too. Sometimes it does feel like a spasm but other times theres burning. Can spasms bring on UTI symptoms as well?

      Please any info is appreciated.. I live in Toronto and would love to start a support group too if anyone is interested

      Thank you

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 2 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Callie, I'm sorry to hear that you have such problems. How long has that been going on? I hope you will try some of my suggestions, if you haven't already.

    • Callie 2 months ago

      This article gave me hope. It's hard to explain the pain that you experience with these flares. It's unbearable. Many women complain of a random UTI and all I can think is, that is how I feel every single day. You learn to cope and try to ignore it (and if you think laying down will help it simply doesn't in the slightest bit). I keep medications such as AZO and Uricalm with me at all times because I get so desperate for relief to go abut my day. My urologist prescribed Vesicare to me for "bladder spasms" but flares often still pop-up.

    • ew 2 months ago

      This is so useful! I will try cutting out some of the foods you mentioned. My symptoms are somewhat confusing and I've been doing a lot of research and wondering what exactly it is. Every once and a while, I have UTI-like symptoms (frequent urges to urinate, painful urination and in small quantities); however, if I drown myself in water (basically drink 5-6 bottles in 2 hours) my symptoms go away completely and I return to normal. It seems like if I'm not hydrated, I have a mini UTI issue and then as soon as I re-hydrate, it goes away. I see many people are having this issue where the symptoms last for months, but really mine only lasts for about 2-3 hours max. Wondering if anyone else has experience this?

    • cw/me 3 months ago

      Hi Sherry, I hope you are doing well. I wanted to ask if your initial recovery from the bladder spasm was straightforward, without any setbacks, or whether you had setbacks along the way. I am at the four and a half month mark of dealing with this, which was kicked off by a UTI (follow up cultures still negative) and though I do get some good days, it seems like I can't go a full week without a bad flareup that lasts for days. This last one I thought was due to my period, but now I realize it might be from the only new thing I've added in a while, honeydew and cantaloupe. I guess those were too high in Vitamin C and irritated my bladder. before that, the cashews I was relying on suddenly felt like they were burning a hole in my bladder as well as I kept nibbling on them every day. I am getting to the point where I fear I can't eat anything without flaring up and that this might be IC. In your experience, were there setbacks like this, with good days and bad days, before things started to truly improve? thanks!

    • Hiya24 3 months ago

      Hi Sherry. Your post has been a boon to me. I was almost on the verge of despair thinking it could be nothing but IC but now I guess it's too soon to say that. I have only urinary frequency and urgency as symptom since the past two weeks. The first week was terrible. Went to a uro who actually told to me up my cranberry juice intake and following that advice made me feel all sore down there and did nothing for my symptoms. I did my own research and cut out cranberry juice and the second week has been better. The second time I went to a gynae who said my symptoms were due to mild cervicitis but her prescribed medicines haven't helped much. In the middle of the week I ate a spicy lunch and coke and it definitely got worse but now I'm going to diligently follow the IC diet. My urgency is on and off...about 9 to 10 times a day..

      May I ask what exactly does the baking soda help with?

    • Jennifer IRL 3 months ago


      I have just read your article here and I am hoping you can give me some feedback. I have been getting repeat UTI infections, usually after masturbation with my vibrator. Just recently thought 2 days after masturbation I felt my pelvic floor muscles contract and instantly started to feel burning sensation. I am so upset because I can't believe it means not masturbating. I have made an appointment to see my doctor again on monday. I am wondering if being on contraceptives for over 13 years has caused this issue for me? Perhaps coming off of it would stop this problem. any ideas? Thanks for making this article entry. I don't feel like i am going crazy now.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 3 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Try the Azo, it may help. Many people do find that intercourse irritates it. Use a good lubricant, you may have to try a few to find the one that works best for you.

    • Ann S 3 months ago

      Hi Sherry, thank you for your article. I've just recently begun to deal with this bladder pain & burning while urinating with frequent need to urinate after many misdiagnoses of UTI this past summer. I feel like a lot of times my pain is triggered after sexual intercourse. Do you have any insight on that? This pain has come and gone for me for 3 years now. I'm going to print your article and try your suggestions. I have seen a Urologist who thinks she felt knots in my pelvic floor. I have a PT appointment set up for 10/13. She didn't really have much more to offer me. Any thoughts on taking AZO (bladder number) for this pain? Thank you, Ann

    • Thyme 4 months ago

      Thank you very much Sherry, this is so lucidly written and so helpful, on an otherwise confusing issue. You have helped me hugely.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      cw/me, Thanks for mentioning Mast Cells and Antihistamines. They are certainly suspect as a contributing factor to IC. The Bromelain and the Quercetin that I recommended also have antihistamine properties. I hope you reap benefits from your new program.

      I have gotten good advice from some doctors, but they certainly don't know everything. If you aren't getting the help you need, you have to keep trying.

    • cw/me 4 months ago

      whoops - here is the link to the article I referenced in my last post

    • cw/me 4 months ago

      Hi Sherry and all, I am just checking back in to say I feel so much better. I did not look into P/T and I don't believe I ever really needed it. I don't know what that could possibly do for an inflamed bladder and I did not suffer from the tight pelvic muscles which can cause similar symptoms. I am still annoyed that the dr's I discussed my problem with were utterly clueless. How can it be that my primary and the urogyno had NO idea from my symptoms that I suffered from an inflamed bladder and didn't know it could happen after a UTI? The urogyno said "I don't know what's wrong with your bladder" and my primary incorrectly diagnosed me with "bladder dissynergy", which was WAY off base considering the symptoms I had. And no one recommend anything along the lines of changing what I ate or trying certain medications that might help the intense pain.

      After going through this I certainly have a much better understanding of how useless dr's can be and the importance of outlets like this where we can discuss our issues, and above all taking matters into your own hands and researching things on your own if your drs don't help you.

      I had to be my own dr and your blog was a blessing to me. Anyway, I found an article that was from the Harvard medical school website, noting that prescription antihistamines were sometimes prescribed for painful bladder symptoms. In the article they talk about the theory of mast cells in the bladder releasing histamine packets and this is what is causing the horrific pain we feel, which only ends up causing more inflammation and even more pain. It listed out a few different Rx drugs, and also said that dr's sometimes prescribe Zantac or Tagamet for its antihistamine properties, adding that evidence didn't really back up the use of these OTC drugs. I didn't want to take a prescription antihistamine, but since I have taken Zantac for my flareups of gastritis in the past, I decided to try it. The first day or two nothing really happened. After the third, I began to feel a difference. The constant feeling of tingling/burning started to subside. The worst attacks were suddenly muted as they started to come on. It could be a coincidence and I was starting to get better anyway, though the timing is interesting.

      I would recommend all bladder pain sufferers to ask their dr about whether it is okay for them to take Zantac or Tagament for their symptoms. They probably will not have a clue what you are talking about if you ask about these with respect to your bladder pain, as these medications are better known for their acid fighting properties. I started out taking one a day and now I am taking one in the am and one in the pm. Some people do not tolerate Zantac very well so go slow at first. I still get moments of tingling when I eat certain foods that I know were triggers for me, but usually do not get those crippling flareups of pain. Now, I am finally able to add cheeses and a little cottage cheese and avocado into my diet, when all I could tolerate for the last few weeks before this was whole wheat pasta, brown rice, steamed veggies and not a lot else. Also, though I am still drinking about one gallon of water throughout the day, I can now go hours without peeing. Yaaayyy!!! I walked five miles a few days ago, something I never thought I was ever going to be able to do again. I can now walk so much more comfortably without that horrible tingling feeling and get through many hours without that sensation returning.

      I also started adding glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. I am only taking one half of a tablet once a day for the 1st week and working my way up since my gastritis and flareups of IBS are aggravated by supplements. One day soon I hope to return to my previous diet. I do miss my coffee, bananas, yogurt, ice cream, walnuts..but I don't want to destroy what has taken three months to rebuild. Like Sherry stated...if you find yourself trying to reach for those foods that hurt you - just stop. This will hopefully just be temporary. For those who do have IC, the antihistamine tip is something that might help you. I wish us all good health and a pain free existence.

    • Sara 4 months ago

      Hi Sherry--I'm so glad I found your post. I had been diagnosed with IBS and IC 20 years ago. No one ever talked to me about dealing with the IC. Problems went away in a couple of years. Both issues returned a year ago, much to my dismay. I thought is was IBS, but then after a bladder infection two weeks ago, started thinking about IC. Found your post and have cut out coffee, chocolate, alcohol, spicy food. Symptoms improving greatly!! I am hopeful that I will feel normal in a few months and can enjoy the foods I have given up. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      That's a great point about checking the ingredients in your ice cream (and whatever else you eat) and also not to rely on only one food. I hope the Physical Therapy helps you. Let us know how that works out. I'm sure other people here would be interested in your experience.

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