The bladder acts as a storage for urine, containing toxins that lurk in the human body.
After the kidneys filter the fluids in the body, toxins are removed. These toxins, along with excessive fluids, are sent to the bladder.
When a person urinates, they release the urine stored in the bladder. Certain conditions affect the urinary system, including the bladder.
An overactive bladder can be incredibly bothersome. It can cause a constant need to urinate.
Having an overactive bladder is not considered a disorder itself. Instead, it is generally a symptom of an underlying condition. An enlarged prostate, often referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia, is a common cause in men. This condition also causes urinary incontinence and similar symptoms.
In the US, a recent study revealed that about 23.3% of adults have an overactive bladder. This includes a 30% prevalence among women, as well as a 16.4% prevalence in the male population.
When traveling, an overactive bladder can become a significant inconvenience. Having urge incontinence or an overactive bladder should not limit your ability to travel, however. We look at the best travel tips for overactive bladder.
1) Map Your Route
Maps are incredibly useful for a number of reasons. When a person goes on a trip, a map helps them understand what activities there are and help them find their way around town. For those with an overactive bladder, the usefulness of a map is often overlooked.
Start by considering how you will be traveling to the destination. Many people use a car to make their travels an entire road trip. With this in mind, start by analyzing the route driven between the home town and the travel destination.
Use apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps to help understand what is found between the two towns. To be more specific, look for gas stations on the road. Not only are these useful for refilling with gas, but they will generally also have a bathroom available for the public to use.
Plan ahead – know where gas stations are and make a stop at each of them. Once in the travel destination, understand where shopping centers and other areas with bathrooms are located and plan trips taken in town according to these findings.
2) Dress For The Trip
Most people tend to choose their outfit based on fashion preferences and trends. Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause interference with bladder problems. Some types of clothing can actually make problems like an overactive bladder worse.
This may also worsen accompanying symptoms, such as urge incontinence. Even when receiving urinary incontinence treatment, the wrong clothes can make a trip unpleasant.
With this in mind, a person should ensure they wear the right clothing when they go on a trip.
First of all, it is important to avoid light clothing. Even with control techniques and the right medication, there is still a chance of small urine drops leaking. This does not pair well with white or light-colored pants at all. When this type of problem is at hand, lighter clothing will immediately show the leakage.
This is why it is essential to instead turn to darker clothing when traveling. Should a small amount of urine leak, it will be less visible – if at all – compared to white pants.
In addition to wearing darker clothes, it is also useful to consider opting for loose fit pants and underwear. Wearing tighter clothing can cause a restriction in the pelvis. This can also cause pressure to be applied to the bladder. In such a case, there is a bigger chance that urine may leak, and the person may find it harder to control their bladder.
3) Limit Liquid Intake
A publication by the Baylor College of Medicine explains that liquid intake and irritants tend to be a significant issue among people with an overactive bladder.
Keeping hydrated on a trip may be important, but this can also lead to a worse case of urine leakage and consistent urges to urinate. Thus, a person must limit their intake of fluids when they are traveling. Instead, the individual may rather choose to hydrate once they reach their destination.
The first type of liquid to limit here would be those that can irritate the bladder. This means no coffee or tea on your trip. While it may be convenient to grab a cup at the next rest stop or gas station, caffeine is known as an irritant for the bladder. This irritation causes an overactive bladder to become worse. The person finds that they need to urinate much more frequently when they consume such irritants.
Soda and drinks with artificial sweeteners may also cause an irritating effect on the bladder.
This is why sticking to water is generally the best option. Even when only considering water as a hydration option, it is still important to limit the amount consumed. Water causes the bladder to fill up faster, which can lead to a more consistent urge.
4) Reserve An Aisle
Traveling by car is not always the best idea to going out of town or, of course, to a different country. With this in mind, there is a chance that the person may find themselves on a flight instead. A flight is much faster compared to a road trip with a car. This means less time spent traveling and a faster turnaround time to reach the destination.
While convenient, the person may still urge to urinate frequently while on an airplane. Thus, they need to ensure they are seated close to the bathroom. There is often more than one bathroom in a plane, but they may be situated far from each other. With the consistent commotion of the plane, the person wants to ensure they are able to reach the bathroom as quickly as possible.
This is why reserving a specific seat in the plane is generally a better option. It can sometimes cost extra to reserve a specific seat, but the expense may be well worth it for a person with an overactive bladder. The individual should check with the airlines about booking a specific seat – this is often possible, but it may depend on the class the individual will be flying in.
Try to get a seat that is close to the bathroom as possible. This ensures minimal movement when trying to reach the bathroom. It would also reduce the risk of urine leakage due to the need for a longer trip to the bathroom.
This is a rather sensitive topic, but definitely an option worth considering for people with a more severe overactive bladder. Catheterization involves the placement of a tube in the urethra. This is the tube that connects to the bladder and sits in the genital tract. Upon urination, the urine is expelled from the body through the urethra.
A catheter placed inside the urethra will collect any urine. This ensures no leakage is experienced, which can be especially useful during a long trip. It also means there is no need to worry about making consistent stops at gas stations to visit the bathroom.
This type of catheterization is generally considered a temporary solution. It is also not an option for every person with an overactive bladder. Those with mild symptoms may rather choose to first opt for other strategies and see how they work. Catheterization does not come without risks. An experienced nurse or physician needs to perform the insertion, as there is a risk of damaging the urethra or causing an infection in some cases.
6) Don’t Forget Your OAB Medication
When a patient is diagnosed with an overactive bladder, certain treatments may help them. Several types of medicated treatments have been found useful for patients who have an overactive bladder. Some treatments are specific to men or women. Others can be used in both genders.
When a person is prescribed medication for the condition, they should ensure they take it as advised. Taking the medication while going on the trip can be useful too. This may help to improve bladder control while driving or taking a flight. In turn, there could be a possible reduction in the frequency of urges.
Some of the most common types of medication used to treat an overactive bladder include:
The primary goal of these drugs is to help relax the muscles inside the bladder. Contractions of these muscles lead to a consistent urinary urge. By reducing tension in the muscles, these drugs may help to cause a less inconvenient frequency of urges to urinate.
In women, a cream that contains estrogen is sometimes used. This cream is applied to the vaginal area. It can also be provided in the form of a suppository or a ring. The use of estrogen treatment in female patients with overactive bladder has been found to offer a significant improvement in the symptoms experienced.
Among men, the doctor may look at the prostate. If problems like prostatitis or an enlargement of the prostate are detected, appropriate medication will be provided.
7) Have An Emergency Plan
Even with appropriate planning and the right equipment, there are still times when the person may face an emergency. Having a plan to take control of this situation is crucial. Failure to plan ahead could lead to anxiety, stress, and chaos.
There are different ways a person can set up an emergency plan. The specific actions and tools included depending on how severe the symptoms are, as well as how they will be traveling.
Having spare sets of clothing is definitely essential when creating an emergency plan. The individual does not want to sit with clothing that is filled with urine on a flight or even in the car. Accidents do happen. In this particular scenario, having a clean pair of clothing becomes critical. When the person does experience an accident, they should remove their current clothing and put on a dry, clean set.
The person may also run out of medication while on the trip or face another complication. With this in mind, it is also important to know about doctors’ location at the travel destination before the trip. It would be a good idea to call beforehand and ensure the doctor accepts the person’s medical insurance plan.
8) Eat Right
Most people only focus on fluids when considering how to reduce the urge to urinate during a trip. Unfortunately, skipping out on the food part may also lead to adverse effects. Some foods can irritate the bladder, too – not just liquids and fluids.
Spicy food should certainly be avoided while traveling. These types of foods are known to become irritants to the bladder. It becomes even more noticeable among individuals with an overactive bladder. With spicy food, the individual may find their need to urinate to come on much more frequently.
There are other foods to avoid too. The person should consider avoiding foods with artificial sweeteners when they travel. These may also become irritating for the bladder. Foods with a high acidic level are also culprits when looking at what causes increased urination frequency.
9) Make A Go-Bag
When accidents happen, having a backup plan is important – but the person should also ensure they have a “go bag” ready. This bag should be kept with them at all times – in a handbag, for example. Putting the go bag with luggage at the back of the plane will remove the strategy’s purpose.
The go-bag should contain a few essential items. This includes clean clothing, as we have noted before. A strong and insulated plastic bag should also be added here. This bag is used to put the wet clothing in, should the person experience an accident while traveling? The plastic bag should be able to close completely to ensure smells and fluids do not escape.
Adding absorbent pads to the go bag is another useful strategy. Both men and women are able to benefit from this type of product. The pads can be used in case of leakage, as they can effectively absorb any of the fluids that leak.
Products to help keep the genital areas dry are useful too. When urine leaks and it is left damp in the area, some complications can develop – such as irritation, as well as inflammation. This may include high quality and natural powder that helps to absorb fluids. A dry towel is useful for removing any fluids from the skin too. There are sealant products that can be used for this purpose as well – these should be applied after cleaning and drying the skin.
10) International Travel: Know The Language
English has become the standard language throughout the world, but there are still countries where a different language is considered the primary communication method. With this in mind, plan carefully and research before heading out to an international location.
If you are visiting a location outside of the US, look up the primary languages spoken in the country. Also, take note of whether English is a popular language in the area. Language barriers are known to cause several unpleasant obstacles during travels. For people with an overactive bladder, these language barriers could be even worse.
When you are looking for a way to the closest bathroom due to an urge, you will often need to ask around. Since you are new to the specific area, you are unaware of where the bathrooms are. With this in mind, look up the main languages spoken and then learn a few important phrases.
Start by learning proper greetings terms in the language. Also, make sure you know how to ask where a bathroom is in a foreign language. Learning more about the language will allow you to understand the feedback provided by locals – especially when asking for directions to a toilet.
Having an overactive bladder can be an inconvenience during travels. Some people even develop anxiety when they need to travel, unaware of when they will have an urge to urinate.
With some planning beforehand, it is possible to overcome the obstacles set by an overactive bladder. We shared some essential tips that will help people travel more comfortably if they have an overactive bladder.