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On Vacation With Incontinence

Urge and stress incontinence follow you wherever you go.
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Your Strategy for Handling Incontinence continued...

Consider a pessary. This is a removable device that helps support pelvic organs to prevent stress urinary incontinence that commonly occurs after childbirth. Your doctor can fit you for a pessary.

Take incontinence medications. If you have a prescription for overactive bladder medications -- but don't take them regularly -- start before you leave home, Wakamatsu tells WebMD. "They start to take effect in the first 24 hours, and reach a good level in your bloodstream after three days."

Dmochowski advises starting medications five to seven days before leaving, to ensure the best protection. "That's the best use of the medication," he tells WebMD. "If you take it the week before vacation, you'll be fine."

Modify your fluid intake. Cutting back in fluids, especially caffeine and alcohol, really helps if you have urge incontinence, advises Wakamatsu. "A lot of people don't realize that caffeine is a diuretic," she tells WebMD. It's also helpful to cut back on water to avoid urinary incontinence problems, she adds. "Women are brainwashed to drink 8 glasses of water in one day.” That’s the right amount for active women, but too much for most women who live more sedentary lives.  

Dine carefully. Spicy foods can trigger accidents if you have urge incontinence. So can acidic foods, including citrus fruits and juices and tomatoes. Enjoy the local cuisine, but choose carefully. 

Practice Kegel exercises in the car or on the plane. These exercises can help manage leakage. You learn to feel the pelvic muscle that controls the bladder -- then tighten that muscle at the instant a leak might occur. "You have to do them regularly to keep pelvic muscles tight," says Wakamatsu. To do Kegels, contract the muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine. Hold the contraction for three seconds and then relax. Do this eight to 10 times, at least three times a week.

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Reviewed on July 29, 2009

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