The holidays are upon us. For those of us with overactive bladder (OAB), this time of year often brings a slight sense of dread. All the different types of food/drink you may encounter and social gatherings with family and friends can induce anxiety about how you’ll fare with bladder leaks. And while things may look a little different this year, chances are you’ll still encounter some of these situations. As always, we think it’s best to be prepared for all scenarios, so we rounded up some of our best holiday tips below.
Holiday tips for OAB
Most of the time, the three biggest OAB pitfalls around the holidays are the many different types of food and drinks you may encounter, trouble with traveling, and interacting with people in new or unfamiliar places (where you may or may not know where your closest bathroom is). Read on for tips on how to manage all of these concerns.
Drinks. Even if you’re having a casual, small get together with close family or friends, drinks are likely on the menu. Be careful here though, since alcohol can be a bladder irritant. What’s more, many of the mixers that are typically found in holiday drinks may cause you problems too, since they’re often chock-full of sugar. Try to enjoy your drinks slowly by subbing in a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have. Not only will this help dilute your alcoholic drink, it will help keep you hydrated, both of which will result in less irritation to your bladder.
Food watch-outs. A great thing about parties is all of the delicious types of food that is typically available. It’s okay to indulge a bit, but know your limits and be careful around foods that you know have caused you problems in the past. Things like citrus, spicy foods, or foods or desserts with caffeine are known bladder irritants for many people. Figure out your own irritants and then steer clear from those foods if you can. (Hint: keeping a bladder diary can help you identify the food and drinks that cause you problems. Download a free one from NAFC here.)
Travel. Your travel may look a bit different this year. If you’re flying by plane, it may be a welcome change as you’ll likely encounter fewer passengers than in the past. However, if you’re opting for a road trip, it will bring its own challenges. Our biggest tip, either way: Do your research and plan accordingly. If flying, try to get an aisle seat so you don’t have the extra hassle of climbing over people when you need to use the restroom. If you can, opt for a seat closer to the facilities. If you’re traveling by car, schedule bathroom stops in advance where you know there will be a public bathroom. There’s nothing worse than being on the road and not being able to find a spot to relieve yourself. Be prepared with extra supplies and have them ready. If flying, pack extra in your carryon in case you have an accident at the airport or the airline loses your luggage. Even if you’re traveling by car, it’s always a good idea to bring along extra supplies. You’d rather have too many than too few, in case you encounter any problems where you’re staying.
Perhaps our biggest tip of all is to finally make the resolution to talk to your doctor about your overactive bladder this year.
Make the resolution to talk to your doctor
Perhaps our biggest tip of all is to finally make the resolution to talk to your doctor about your overactive bladder this year. This can be a daunting and scary step for many, but the results are well worth it. There are many treatment options available, and there’s no reason anyone should have to live with OAB or bladder leaks.
Talking to your doctor or health care provider is easier than you’d expect. You might feel a little embarrassment at first, but once you get it out there, you’ll find that moving toward treatment can feel empowering. Your doctor will help guide the discussion by asking you about your symptoms (a bladder diary can be helpful here too) and will talk to you about potential treatments that may be a good fit.
You can help yourself out by coming prepared to talk about OAB. If you’re able to, make a dedicated appointment for the discussion so you don’t get side-tracked with other issues. Be prepared to tell your doctor about your symptoms, including how often you feel the need to empty your bladder, when the feelings typically occur, if there are any triggers that prompt you to need to go, and if you ever experience any leaks from not being able to make it to a toilet in time. All of these details will help paint a better picture for your doctor of what you’re dealing with.
It’s also a good idea to research the many treatment options available to you before seeing your doctor. While your doctor will likely recommend something that he/she thinks is best based off of what you tell him or her, there may be other options out there that you find interesting and would like to explore too. Changes to your diet or exercise regimen, physical therapy, medications, and other procedures are all available options to you. Do your research so that you know what’s out there and can have more input in the management of your OAB.
It’s also helpful to have a list of any questions you might have ready so that you don’t forget to ask anything during your appointment. Things like “what are the side-effects,” “how soon should I expect to see improvements,” “what types of improvements are typical with this type of treatment,” and “is this covered by my insurance” are all important things to discuss.
One important thing to note is to be persistent with both your treatment, and your doctor. Not everything works right away, and not every treatment is right for every person. Give it time, but follow up with your doctor if something isn’t working for you. Maybe you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for, or the side effects are too much for you. Whatever the case, let your doctor know how you’re doing so that they can adjust your treatment plan as needed.
Follow these steps, and next year you may be able to enjoy the holidays without feeling the pressure of always knowing where a bathroom is.
This article is copywritten by the National Association for Continence and is used by permission and legally licensed by Urovant. For more information, visit nafc.org.