Allergens Included:
Gluten/Wheat, Lactose, Milk, Egg and Yeast

Please keep in mind that my "Allergy-Free" recipes are geared toward these food allergies only and to the best of my knowledge, do not contain these allergens.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Overactive Bladder link to Gluten Intolerance

Little known Gluten Symptom- Overactive Bladder

According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, one of the eight top food allergens is wheat/gluten.  The others include dairy products, eggs, fish and shellfish, soy, peanuts and tree nuts (like pecans and walnuts).  A reaction from these foods can trigger inflammatory chemicals, like histamine from mast cells, to be released into your body.  The lining of your bladder contains mast cells which have the capacity to release large amounts of inflammatory substances or histamine.  These irritate the bladder and can trigger multiple symptoms.  The symptoms can include but are not limited to:
  • Bladder discomfort
  • Frequency
  • Urgency
  • Bed wetting
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Interstitial cystitis
If gluten intolerance or another food intolerance is the cause of your bladder or urinary symptoms, it is likely to go undiagnosed.  Most people will end up on a overactive bladder medication which may lead to urinary hesitancy which can be almost as time consuming as the overactive bladder runs to the bathroom. 

Once I started my gluten-free diet, I started having extreme difficulty with hesitancy and sometimes not being able to urinate at all.  I ended up with a bladder infection and was sent home with an antibiotic.  Half way through the week-long course of the antibiotic, I was still experiencing quite a bit of hesitancy and not being able to void completely.  My assumption is this is what caused the bladder infection in the first place.  So I stopped my prescription medication for my overactive bladder and within a couple days I noticed a big change and lack of difficulty.  This is what brought me to research whether food intolerance can lead to bladder symptoms.  There is not a lot of information out there; although, there are several studies evaluating patients that had similar symptoms to myself that reported a gluten free diet helpful if not being diagnosed with celiac disease.

As with all food intolerance, the more it is ignored, the worse it aggravates your insides.  Ignored long enough, this can, and probably will lead to interstitial cystitis.  Here is some basic information on interstitial cystitis.

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a painful condition due to inflammation of the tissues of the bladder wall. The cause is unknown. The condition is usually diagnosed by ruling out other conditions (such as sexually transmitted disease, bladder cancer, and bladder infections).

IC is frequently misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection. Patients often go years without a correct diagnosis. On average, there is about a 4-year delay between the time the first symptoms occur and the diagnosis is made.

The condition generally occurs around age 30 to 40, although it has been reported in younger people. Women are 10 times more likely to have IC than men.

The symptoms can include:
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pelvic pain
  • Urinary discomfort
  • Urinary frequency (up to 60 times a day in severe cases)
  • Urinary urgency
If you have been diagnosed with an overactive bladder, interstitial cystitis or just have signs or symptoms of bladder irritation, allergy/intolerance testing may help you. 

Here is a very helpful book about food allergies and bladder dysfunction:

Wendy Cohan, RN, is an author, educator, registered nurse, and former sufferer of Interstitial Cystitis (IC). Emphasizing a patient centered, holistic approach, she helps clients gain control over their bladder disorders and live free from pelvic pain.
She maintains two websites:

"Wendy Cohan has given us a great gift to have researched and written a book linking diet, lifestyle and genital/urinary tract symptoms. Most people eat foods that do not serve them well on a daily basis. Their choices are not working for them, but without education and awareness, people may continue to suffer without realizing that it's the food they place in their mouths three times a day that may be a root cause of their symptoms."
— Lisa Shaver, ND, MSOM, Lac
Portland, Oregon