If you are one of 33 million Americans suffering from an Overactive Bladder (OAB), which is a condition marked by the strong, immediate need to go to the bathroom (urgency), desire to go to the toilet quite often (frequency), and involuntary loss of bladder control (incontinence) it doesn’t mean you need to stop traveling. These tips may help ease your travel fears and put you on the road again.

Many people with OAB limit their daily activities, including travel, social, and even work activities to avoid potentially embarrassing situations.  Does your OAB keep you from making simple day trips in your home city or taking longer cross-country vacations due to anxiety about finding accessible restrooms? 

You don’t need to miss out on your favorite pastime, travel, as the difficulties in finding accessible restrooms can be solved with these tips.  

Tips for traveling with OAB

1 – Look for Nationwide Retail Chains. 

To their credit, several major nationwide retail chains maintain restrooms available to all, including but not limited to Barnes & Noble, Border’s Books & Music, Starbucks and McDonald’s, and most (but not all) 7-Elevens. Start there if you’re out and about and need a restroom.

2 – Pocket an “Emergency $5.” 

When confronted with a sign that says “For Customers Only,” you can quickly become a patron by purchasing a small item such as a bottle of water or pack of gum.

3 – Carry a card that explains your condition 

OAB can be a frustrating condition, especially if you have to explain it to a clerk to allow you to use their restroom. Instead, print download a wallet-sized card to quickly (and discreetly) let businesses know you can’t wait.

4 – Be Open With Your Travel Companion 

Ensure travel companions know and understand the symptoms of OAB so that, if needed, they can help you find a restroom quickly.

5 – Remember Your Medication 

Who wants their beach vacation interrupted by their OAB? Make sure you bring your medication to help make your trip a little easier.

6 – Avoid irritating bladder foods 

Limit your chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, and citrus intake, as these foods usually irritate a sensitive bladder. Before traveling, spend a week keeping a journal and religiously note what you eat, the amount, the time and how if makes you feel. Make a list of foods that give you the urge to urinate. 

7 – Make sure you are well hydrated

Although drinking too much of anything will make you want to go to the toilet, drinking plenty of water is an essential tool for coping with incontinence. This might seem to be counterintuitive. After all, limiting your fluid intake can make sense if you feel the need to urinate.

However, if you don’t drink enough water, your urine can be highly concentrated, irritating your bladder. If you leak while you’re sleeping, you may want to reduce your intake in the evenings to improve your chances of sleeping through the night without having to get up. If this is the case, make sure you frontload your fluids during the day to stay hydrated, drinking more fluids during the day than you do at night.

8 – Establish a routine

Maintaining a toilet routine will help relieve some of the urgency that comes with having an overactive bladder. Start by taking bathroom breaks every hour or so and seeing how you feel. It would help if you gradually increased the time between each one. This form of bladder preparation can be beneficial in coping with incontinence. With some effort, it’s possible to train your bladder to go at regular times, giving your routine some predictability.

9 – Move around

Extra pounds place pressure on the bladder’s muscles, which can lead to stress incontinence. Losing weight can help ease the symptoms of adult incontinence. Going for a stroll and enjoying the sunshine can be a perfect way to get some exercise.

10 – Use protective items

Liners and pads offer comfort and peace of mind in such situations where you can’t make it to the bathroom. Some liners and pads are better than others. Look for ones that are designed to help with incontinence, and others aren’t. Period liners are worn by certain women who are unable to buy incontinence items due to embarrassment or discomfort. On the other hand, Period liners are not intended specifically to absorb urine and can leave you feeling damp. For heavier bladder leakage, incontinence underwear has a higher absorption ability than pads and liners.

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