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6 Travel Tips for Those Experiencing OAB

June 25, 2021 | By: Dr. Douglas Feeney

Distinguishing a men’s restroom from a women’s restroom can be difficult in some foreign countries; an overactive bladder could turn it into a panic.

More than 30 million Americans experience overactive bladder (OAB), the sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control. During travel, when bathrooms aren’t readily available and relaxing meals may include a few extra beverages, a little advanced planning can go (and go and go) a long way to avoiding OAB mishaps.

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling the great 50 states or an exotic land, the bladder speaks just one language. Here are six tips for making it to the bathroom on time, regardless of location.

Map out the rest stops. Those planning a road trip can take a few minutes beforehand to review the routes and determine the length between rest stops. This will help manage how much to drink between stops and during meals. A restroom locator app, of which there are several options, can do the trick for both road trips and overseas adventures.

Prepare your bladder strength. Limiting urination to scheduled times of day, and not to when you have the urge to go, will help condition the bladder to wait for set pee breaks. The key is to gradually lengthen times between trips, so this process should be planned weeks ahead. Kegels (pelvic-squeezing exercises) also can strengthen the bladder muscles – for both women and men.

Watch what you drink, but also what you eat. Many people know that coffee and carbonated drinks can exacerbate OAB because they contain certain irritants. But did you know some foods can aggravate OAB as well? Citrus fruits, tomatoes, and spicy foods are among potential triggers, as well as foods high in liquid (like cucumbers). If these items are part of a regular diet, try to start weaning off of them before traveling.

Consider a prescribed antidote. Bladder-relaxing medications, such as anticholinergics, can help control the need to pee by blocking the neurotransmitters that cause involuntary muscle contractions. Other medications (beta-3 agonists) are designed to relax the bladder muscle. For women who prefer not to take these medications, estrogen creams or tablets may provide relief.

Pack accordingly, with “fewer-step” clothing. Those with OAB should play it safe and prepare for accidents at every step of the trip. This includes packing the suitcase – and a day bag – with absorbent liners or pads, medications, and extra underwear. When choosing what clothing to bring, consider how many “steps” each item requires to get out of (hint, avoid one-piece jump suits).

Talk to a urologist. If you or someone you know experiences the symptoms of an overactive bladder, and have not talked to a urologist about it, it likely will be helpful to do so before the trip. In addition to disrupting one’s life, OAB may indicate other conditions, such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, diabetes, and kidney disease.

Most people know if they have trouble making it to the bathroom on time. Specific symptoms to determine if this issue can be attributed to OAB include waking up more than twice a night to urinate, needing to pee at least eight times a day, and unintentional leaks during these trips. An overactive bladder doesn’t have to keep you at home. Recognize the issue, and we can recognize an easy-to-pack solution.

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