Coffee and tea trigger flares for many people with interstitial cystitis (IC). Yet, many don’t know how they would get through the day without them. The caffeine in both of these beverages can be habit-forming, and quitting cold turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.

MYTH: Decaffeinated coffee and tea are okay for IC patients to drink.
Doctors and other healthcare providers report that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and tea can trigger bladder flares because of the acidity in the products, so it is best to kick the coffee and tea habit, and find alternative ways to find energy throughout the day.

Here are three tips for easing off caffeinated drinks and finding alternative ways to keep energized:

  1. Slowly cut back on coffee/tea:
    • Gradually reduce how much you drink each day.
    • Depending upon how much you are drinking, give yourself several days or a week or more to eliminate coffee from your diet.
    • Read about bladder flare strategies.
  1. Pick a new beverage:
    • Try a vegetable-based product such as Cafix®, Pero®, Roma, and Postum®.
    • Herbal teas such as chamomile and mint are usually well tolerated by IC patients.
    • Keep trying until you find a product you like.
    • Just like coffee or tea, you can add milk and/or sugar to any beverage to improve the taste.
    • You can buy coffee and tea substitutes in health food stores, online, and some supermarkets.
    • Fill a small plastic container with individual portions of substitutes that you can mix with hot or cold water when you are away from home.
    • Always check the label to make sure the beverage doesn’t have any caffeine, or any other allergen you may need to avoid.
  1. Select an alternative energy booster:
    • Get moving. A brisk 10-minute walk can be very energizing.
    • Don’t skip meals.
    • Eating six smaller meals throughout the day can help keep your energy level up.
    • Stay hydrated. Drink enough water to keep your urine a pale yellow color.
    • Keep your blood glucose levels in check by eating some protein with whole grains at each meal.
    • Get your ZZZs. This is probably the hardest thing to do for an IC patient, but good sleep is essential to maintaining your overall health and energy levels.

Revised Wednesday, April 6th, 2016