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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

Traveling With Overactive Bladder

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Medications continued...

If you haven't used these drugs before and want to try them, Griebling suggests you start taking them a few weeks before your trip. This way you'll know ahead of time how you respond to the drug, "rather than traveling and being in a new place and taking a new medication and having problems or side effects," he says.

It also takes about 2 weeks for bladder relaxants to become most effective, says Amy Rosenman, MD, a clinical assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Remember to pack your medications in your carry-on luggage. Also bring along a copy of your prescription, Griebling says. "That way, if you run out, it’s easier to get things refilled."

Rosenman also suggests packing a stool softener to take in case your bladder relaxant causes constipation.

Bring Enough Supplies

Bring absorbent pads with you so you'll have them even if you can't find them at your destination, Muller says. A small plastic bag can carry soiled clothing or discarded pads. Tuck clean underwear into a purse or day pack, too.

"I also recommend taking a barrier cream," Rosenman says. "If you get damp, it’s good to waterproof that area so that it doesn't get irritated and inflamed." Use it after each time you urinate, she says.

Choose Food and Drinks Wisely

"Know what your own bladder irritants are," Muller says, and avoid them while traveling. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks, alcohol, carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners, and spicy or acidic foods are often bladder triggers.

On airplanes, be especially careful not to overdo the coffee, tea, alcohol, and soft drinks. Also, try to book an aisle seat near a lavatory.

Some people skimp on drinking water during travel to cut down on bathroom trips, but this strategy can backfire, she says. "That causes the urine to be more concentrated, and more highly concentrated urine is itself an irritant to the lining of the bladder and can trigger spasms." Instead, drink enough water to prevent dehydration.

Finding Public Restrooms

Plan ahead to locate public restrooms. For example, the National Association for Continence web site has a tool called "Find a Bathroom." The web site sitorsquat.com can help you find public bathrooms around the world.

Taking a road trip? Go online to find freeway exit guides that list rest areas with bathrooms. There are also free mobile apps that can help you locate restrooms.

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Reviewed on August 06, 2013

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