How do I handle OAB while traveling?

Summer is in full swing and you know what that means… It’s vacation season. For individuals with an overactive bladder (OAB), it can be difficult to make travel plans, especially when considering the stress of driving, taking a bus, train or plane. 

The idea of long-distance travel without easy access to restroom facilities can be anxiety inducing for those with OAB, but worry shouldn’t hold you back from exploring! 

As many as 33 million people in the U.S. suffer from overactive bladder symptoms, which affect nearly 30% of men and up to 40% of women. It’s also possible that these numbers are higher due to OAB symptoms being embarrassing for some individuals, which can result in a reluctance to talk about it with their doctor. 

Let’s take a look at three strategies you can utilize on your next trip to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of an overactive bladder!


Make a Plan

It sounds simple, but sitting down and firmly planning out your itinerary can alleviate the stress that comes with traveling and an overactive bladder. Flying across the country? Book an aisle seat for easier access to the restrooms! Many bus lines and trains also offer onboard restrooms, granting you confidence when traveling far distances. 

Family roadtrip coming up? Plan out your pit stops based on how well you know your body. Know that there’s going to be a long stretch in the trip without access to gas stations, rest stops or restaurant restrooms? Be sure to stop before the “bathroom gap” and use the restroom, even if you don’t feel like you need to! It could be the difference between cruising to summer tunes or five-alarm panic behind the wheel. 

For an added layer of confidence, keep a travel bag with a change of clothes and toiletries handy. With your new plan, you likely won’t need it, but it never hurts to have one around! 


Limit Your Food and Liquid Intake

By no means are we encouraging that you don’t drink or eat anything on the trip, but consume food and beverages in moderation. You don’t want to become dehydrated before you get to your destination, so keep a water bottle handy, but use it sparingly. It can help to ask your co-pilot to be an accountability partner or a water buddy. Have them remind you to sip on water or tell you when to slow down (on the water, not on the gas).  

You should also avoid drinks high in caffeine, sugar and spicy foods before you begin the trip, as well as during the journey. These irritants could cause a surge in your OAB, turning your plan upside down and resulting in added stress. 


Start Training Your Bladder 

Before you depart, start strengthening your pelvic floor muscles by alternating between squeezing and relaxing your bladder. Kegel exercises are effective in both men and women, and have proven incredibly helpful in individuals experiencing incontinence and overactive bladders.

You can also attempt timed voiding, a process in which you empty your bladder at strict intervals, conditioning your body to need to go on a schedule you control. Consult your physician before trying timed voiding and to ensure you’re performing Kegels correctly. Arkansas Urology may also recommend our Axonics Center and Interstim treatment based on the patient’s OAB symptoms. 


An overactive bladder may seem like a burden only you can carry, but the experts at Arkansas Urology are equipped with the treatment and experience to treat your symptoms and get you back on track toward traveling worry-free. 

Arkansas Urology strives to provide each and every patient with nondiscriminatory, life-changing care. For more information on access, visit our FAQ section

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today or book your appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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