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What's the Worst Drink For IC Ever?

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  • What's the Worst Drink For IC Ever?

    (By Jill Osborne MA )

    Heather Van Vorous, author of First Year IBS, writes some killer articles for her website newsletter ( In her latest "Ask Heather" column, she answers the question "What's the Worst Drink for IBS Ever?" Given the fact that IC and IBS are so similar and require similar dietary changes, I'd like to review her list, modify it slightly for the IC community and offer what I think is the worst drink ever for IC. Will it be the same as hers? Read on!

    Obviously, diet modification is crucial for many IC patients, particularly those with profound bladder ulceration and/or sensitivity. Why? If you had a wound on your hand, what would happen if you poured lemon juice on it? It would, of course, sting. Thus foods high in acid can be particularly irritating. But the other reality of IC and IBS is that the nerves in the bladder and/or bowel often become hypersensitive thus we must also avoid those foods which are neurostimulatory, such as caffeine. So, let's take a look at her list and compare it with our own. Since many you, like me, struggle with both IBS and IC, finding the right balance between these lists can be quite a challenge yet is well worth the effort.

    COFFEE - The high acids found in both regular and decaf coffees are well known to irritate sensitive stomachs, heartburn, acid reflux and, of course, our IC bladders. Of course, caffeine is a nerve stimulant which, in my case, makes my heart race if I drink it. But did you know that coffee contains an enzyme that is "an extremely strong GI tract irritant?" Heather noted that patients who rely on coffee in the morning to trigger their bowels may note that it can cause more cramps and rebound diarrhea. For the IC patient, coffee in the morning will trigger a day of frequency, urgency and/or pain. Coffee is an absolute no no for patients with IC and IBS!

    SODA POP - As Heather wrote, "the only IBS-safe ingredient in soda pop is the water" which is also true for IC. Besides the obviously high levels of acid found in most soda, the high fructose corn syrup can be a huge part of the problem. Fructose is a difficult to digest sugar that can cause cramps, diarrhea, bloating and gas. Diet sodas with artificial sweeteners are even worse, well known for triggering both IBS and IC symptoms but did you know that diet sodas are a proven cause of obesity? IC patients who drink sodas daily or weekly may be triggering profound irritating in their bladder which could prevent some therapies from working effectively.

    DAIRY - For IBS patients, dairy products (cheese, cream, milk, ice cream) can be a trigger due to the fat, lactose and the proteins whey and casein. Yet, for IC, dairy products are usually bladder friendly. Heather rightly encourages IBS patients to avoid dairy altogether and to try some of the non-dairy substitutes on the market. If you happen to be struggling with both IC and IBS symptoms, dairy is one of the first food groups suggested that you remove in an elimination diet. However, if you don't have IBS and/or struggle with lactose intolerance, diary products are usually bladder friendly.

    ALCOHOL - Alcohol is well known for its GI irritating and a potential carcinogenic effect on the bowel. Heather says that "alcohol is more likely to trigger IBS attacks on an empty stomach, so some folks can drink a bit when they're generally stable and have just eaten." On the otherhand, alcohol triggers bladder symptoms in the vast majority of patients who try them simply because it is irritating to the wounds found in the IC bladder. Remember when your mother used to pour alcohol on a scraped knee? It burned horribly and that's exactly how it can feel in an IC bladder. However, there are some beverages which have less alcohol than others.

    The ICN conducted a survey of patients in 2010 asking what alcohols they could tolerate. Only 21% of patients reported that they could drink wine without triggering an IC flare. Lower acid wines were better than high acid or high histamine wines with chardonnay and merlot the popular favorites. 39% of patients could enjoy mixed drinks depending upon the mixers used. IC patients avoided all citrus mixers and prefered water, ice and milk. 44% of patients could tolerate beers with a preference towards light rather than dark ales. A surprising 65% of patients reported that they could tolerate a straight alcohol drink, usually focusing on light or clear alcohols. Tequila was the most bladder irritating while rum and vodka drinks seemed to be the most bladder friendly.

    BLACK TEA - The tannic acids in black tea can irritate the stomach, trigger heartburn and, of course, irritate the bladder. Heather encourages IBS patients to try decaf green teas whereas for patients with a sensitive bladder, we strongly discourage all green tea use due to its high acid content. Green teas are notorious for triggering IC flare!

    So what's the worst drink for IC ever? I totally agree with Heather and nominate the numerous Energy Drinks liniing checkout stands at supermarkets around the country. Most contain coffee or green tea combined with a massive extra addition of caffeine guaranteed to make your urinary frequency, urgency and pain skyrocket. Throw in numerous artificial sweeteners, colorings, preservatives, vitamins, herbs, chocolate and more, and that one cheat could lead to days of discomfort and a huge IC flare. The only way to make it worse is to add alcohol. Ironically, in late 2010, the FDA sent warning letters to several companies selling alcoholic energy drinks to college students!

    Take heart! There are many beverages that you can drink when you have a sensitive bladder and/or bowel. Check out the ICN Recipe section for dozens of recipes that you can use to create bladder friendly cold and hot drinks! And, of course, if you have drinks to recommend, please add them there!

    Learn more about Heather Van Vorous and sign up for her newsletter at:

    - - - - -

    So what bothers you?? Do you agree??? Is there a worse food?? I'd love to hear your thoughts! - Jill
    Last edited by icnmgrjill; 09-28-2011, 09:14 AM.
    Would you like to talk with someone about your IC struggles? The ICN now offers personal coaching sessions that include myself, Julie Beyer RD on the diet and Dr. Heather Howard on Sexuality.

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    Please remember that the information on the ICN is provided with the understanding that ICN, its founder, staff, volunteers, and participants are not engaged in rendering medical or professional medical services. We cannot and do not give medical advice. Only your personal physician can do this for you.

  • #2
    Iced tea to of any tea leaves (except for herbal) bothers me the most of any drink!
    -Pammylynn Rose
    Wishing everyone a pain free bladder day!

    Painful symptoms start in May 2011
    Diagnosed with IC in Aug 2011

    Axert (only for rare migraines)
    Strict IC diet
    Gluten/dairy/egg free diet


    • #3
      I'd say the worst drink for IC ever would have to be the cranberry smoothie with extra vitamins that landed me in the ER when I first got IC. That was an unforgettable and very unpleasant experience!

      I am not a medical authority nor do I offer medical advice. In all cases, I strongly encourage you to discuss your medical treatment with your personal medical care provider. Only they can, and should, give medical recommendations to you.

      New favorite quote: "God gives us only what we can handle. Apparently God thinks I'm a bad-ass" ~Author Unknown
      Source - Pinterest

      Current treatments:
      -IC diet
      -Elavil 50mg at night
      -Continuous use birth control pills (4-5 periods/year)
      -Heparin/Marcaine/Sodium Bicarb home instills at night 3-4x per week, more often if needed
      -Pyridium if needed,
      -Pain medicine at bedtime daily, as needed during the day several times per week
      -Antibiotic when doing an instillation to prevent UTI
      -Colace & SmartFiber to treat chronic constipation from meds, Fleet enema as needed
      -Dye Free Benadryl 50 mg at bedtime
      -"Your Pace Yoga: Relieving Pelvic Pain" dvd, walking, treadmill at gym
      -Managing stress= VERY important!
      -Fur therapy: Hugging the cat!


      • #4
        Tea is the worst after coffee....for me I don't drink alcohol at all although I sure miss my glasses of wine...I only drink water and spsrite


        • #5
          Eyes wide open:

          I think coffee is the worst drink for anyone and I still have one cup in the morning (with my urologist’s knowledge). I remember my parents wouldn’t let me drink coffee until I was 12 years old, so I’ve known for a while now lol.


          • #6
            When I was first diagnosed a nurse mixed regular 7 Up with cranberry juice --- OUCH!!!
            Stay safe

            Elmiron Eye Disease Information Center -
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            Have you checked the ICN Shop?
            Click on ICN Shop at the top of this page. You'll find Bladder Builder and Bladder Rest, both of which we are finding have excellent results.

            Patient Help:


            Diet list:

            AUA Guidelines:

            I am not a medical authority nor do I offer medical advice. In all cases, I strongly encourage you to discuss your medical treatment with your personal medical care provider. Only they can, and should, give medical recommendations to you.

            Anyone who says something is foolproof hasn't met a determined fool


            • #7
              Coffee and Cramberry kill me. I had a mojito last night with heaps of lime though and feel fantastic? Anyone else ok with lime?
              TMJ Dysfunction 2009
              Vulvodynia and/or PFD 2010
              IC, based on symptoms alone 2010.
              PCOS March 2012

              8 month remission following the birth of my beautiful daughter Imogen Rose 25/12/12....currently flaring and hoping to get remission back, life without IC was amazing!

              Currently using: IC Diet...pain meds as needed
              Medications / treatment tried and discounted:
              Fluconazole 150mg 1 per week for 6 months (yeast)
              Endep 25mg - 4months
              Lyrica 75mg - 2 months - FLARE
              Oxytrol patch - I think this caused retention.
              Countless creams, lotions and potions.
              Cystoprotek - no change in symptoms
              PT - for 1 year
              Various herbs and supplements


              • #8
                worst drink ever

                For me, it would have to be a tie between cranberry juice and apple juice.
                In a moment of madness, I bought a bottle of apple juice at our local book store and sipped it while deciding between several different books. Not a good idea!


                • #9
                  Briza... I can understand where you are coming from. My first year of symptoms I was told I had an infection that wouldn't go away so drink Cranberry Juice. I drank Cranberry juice all the time. By far the worst drink ever - as well as orange juice, grapefruit juice, etc. I think tea is bad too no matter if it is a herbal tea. The only tea I can handle is chamoile.

                  Current Meds:
                  1 Elmiron 100mg 3x a day
                  1 Cimetidine 300mg 2x a day
                  4 Gabapentin 300mg 3x a day (3600mg)
                  1 - 2 Atarax 25mg at bedtime
                  1 baclofen 10mg 3x a day as needed
                  200mg of Pyridium 3x a day (usually do in cycles - on for a week or two as needed) - I am very careful about this.
                  2 belladonna and opium suppositories as needed for pain daily.
                  Bladder instillations (Lidocaine, Heparin, & Sodium Bicarbonate)

                  I have tried but failed -
                  lidocaine instillations, heparin instillations, oxybutynin by mouth also called ditropan, tylenol 3s with coedine, cyclobenzaphrine, Ativan, vesicare, Oxytrol patches worked for 3 to 4 years and then failed, I tried Uracyst and had some success but my urologist felt that it was not successful so we moved on to trying something else. .


                  • #10
                    Ill have to agree with Briza. Before I figured out it was IC, I was drinking LITERS of cranberry juice and eating tomato pizza pops because I couldn't get out of bed. GO FIGURE, lol.... My poor bladder. No doubt I ended up in the ER over and over.... and to make matters worse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the nurses at the hospital that I was admitted too just kept on feeding me cranberry juice too.

                    I had this one night that I remember vividly, I woke up in the hospital in agony where I had to pee so bad and I was cramping and crying, like in real pain. I remember sitting on the toilet at 2 am in the ward I was on, and the nurse sitting on the floor in front of me IN the bathrrom with a needle in my IV stint injecting morphine because I was screaming on the toilet. She was such an amazing nurse, honestly, but had no idea what was going on either, other than I was in pain. So she gave me a huge glass of cranberry juice, along with my morphine and tried to get me to go back to sleep. It was no wonder I was in so much pain. How I got through those days I have no idea.

                    So glad those days are over! Looks like a whole bunch of us had this experience with cranberry juice!!!

                    UGH haha

                    28 yrs old,

                    I have little to no problems now with my bladder, unless I am very stressed out, I forget to take Elmiron for a few days, or I eat or drink something that I know is a trigger...(i.e) like eating a tomato or drinking tea.... Took a long time to get here, but it IS possible to feel good again I just want people who are new to know that IT CAN get better, and for every one person who is suffering, there are hundreds of others who feel GREAT because they have control of thier IC.

                    What Works: Tylenol 3's, Pyridium, Elmiron (Going on 4 years now!) HOT showers!!!

                    Medications/ Vitamins: Elmiron-100mg 4x's daily Tylenol 3's/Advil (flaring) Vitamin D, WILD salmon oil 4x gels in the morning, Women's ONE a DAY multivitamin (the gummy kind doesn't make me flare) and PROBIOTICS!

                    Me in my graduation gown!


                    • #11
                      I would say cranberry juice as well; even though I don't think I have had any since I was dx with IC which was officially 1992. Other than than its lime aid /lemon aid; also ginger ale.(had a ginger ale recently because I couldn't find a 7-up and I was very thirty due to the hot weather we were having here at the time.
                      I can tolerate one cup of regular coffee in the morning.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mary124
                        I would say cranberry juice as well; even though I don't think I have had any since I was dx with IC which was officially 1992. Other than than its lime aid /lemon aid; also ginger ale.(had a ginger ale recently because I couldn't find a 7-up and I was very thirty due to the hot weather we were having here at the time.
                        I can tolerate one cup of regular coffee in the morning.
                        Mary, it's interesting how we are all so different. I can drink ginger ale,(flat), but I couldn't touch coffee. Trial and error, for sure.


                        • #13
                          V8 tomato juice.

                          But if we're competing here then I'd say V8 mixed with vodka, coffee, and carbonated water.
                          • 27 year old student
                          • Had symptoms since I was 5
                          • Been on forums since '07, knew I had this since then, received mild treatment without true diagnosis due to anxiety. Diagnosed by symptoms on 4/08/11.
                          • Had first horrible flare in 07, bad doctors, had to research IC myself to clue in onto what it was. After following the diet I went into remission.
                          • Big flare in 09 due to an untreated bladder infection. Went back into remission in 2012.
                          • Symptoms returned 4/1/15. All of my remissions have ended in April-May or September-October. It sounds like a connection to seasonal allergies to me..

                          Currently: Continuous Birth Control, vaginal valium (10/6/11), Elmiron (4/08/11), UTA (4/08/11), continuous Trimethoprim for infections (10/6/11), Heating pad, Benedryl, harsh diet

                          What I know works: Benedryl, diet, birth control, UTA, valium, ditropan, soma

                          What didn't work: Elavil, vistaril (12/22)


                          • #14
                            i'm in a flare right now, and i'm sure it's because of the hot chocolate I drank yesterday! I wasn't thinking, and thought "i'm doing ok, i'll be able to handle this!" an hour later, pain, frequency started, and it hasn't gone away yet. ugh.

                            But like everyone else I drank cranberry juice, and took cranberry pills, and wondered why I didn't feel better!!


                            • #15
                              not so clear cut for me but coffee, tea, alcohol bad

                              Teas and Coffees and Alcohol sometimes I can tolerate and sometimes cannot. On top of a huge meal sometimes it is better or at least delayed.
                              I don't think cranberry and tomoto are as bad to me as most here. In fact I am on an elimination diet right now to try and identify my real triggers including to my joints and my irritable bowel. Sometimes I don't know what is setting it off. I have not had any tea or coffee or tomoato or cranberry but I have had this vitamin powder with some ginger in it and a very alkaline broth of celery, potatoes,zuchhini and lettuce and I'm as bad as ever still.
                              I got IC in 1970! I was not diagnosed until 1991. I've tried many drugs and therapies but I tend to only resort to drugs when in a flare because when I am not in a flare (from being good on diet), I suffer only from small bladder volume (like about 7 ozs.) and peeing will relieve the discomfort. When I am feeling relatively normal, I say to myself I am glad I am not on a drug. When I am in a flare, I say, why am I not on a drug! I've recently have been trying to solve my connective issue problems in general. I look to diet and herbs mostly unless it gets really bad. I still think there is great hope for each individual finding a path to healing and there are many.