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How to Keep OAB from Spoiling Your Fun
A misbehaving bladder is never easy to handle, but when schedules shift to holiday mode, it can become an even bigger challenge. Your symptoms may not change too much, but the fierce urge to go, frequent trips to the bathroom, and threat of leaks could have you dreading festive events.
You may not be able to get rid of your symptoms completely, but some careful planning can help you avoid uncomfortable and embarrassing situations. Follow these eight tips to manage your OAB without sacrificing your holiday spirit:
1. Find a New Favorite Mocktail
Since alcohol is a major bladder irritant and a diuretic, you should steer clear of the booze over the holidays. That can be easier said than done, especially when work parties, festive dinners, and other seasonal gatherings roll around.
If giving up your celebratory drink (or two) seems like a big sacrifice, you can soften the blow by finding a delicious alternative. Mocktails — alcohol-free cocktails — can be fancy enough to feel like an indulgence, but much easier on your bladder than beer or wine. Play around with some different flavor combinations, or check recipes online for inspiration.
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2. Push for Potlucks
There are dozens of trigger foods that can spell trouble for those with OAB, and when someone else is making the menu, it can be difficult to know what to avoid. If your family or friends are planning on hosting a gathering, why not suggest they make it potluck? You can bring your favorite bladder-friendly dish, so even if the rest of the spread looks suspicious, you know there’s at least one dish that you can enjoy without worry.
Of course, knowing your trigger foods is the first step to avoiding them, so keep a food journal in the weeks leading up to the festive season to jot down any ingredients that seem to make things worse. Keep an eye out for spicy or acidic foods in particular.
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3. Eat Healthy
Carrying too much excess weight can burden your bladder, and the holiday season is a prime setting for over-indulgence. If you have a few extra pounds to lose, it’s important to stick to a healthy eating plan no matter what the season.
It can be difficult to resist festive treats, and holiday weight gain is incredibly common, but there are ways to enjoy the season’s flavors without putting on weight.
Portion control is a big factor — plates often get bigger and are refilled more often. Stick to reasonable serving sizes, keeping two-thirds of your plate free for colorful veggies, fruits and whole grains.
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4. Prepare for Leaks
If you’re worried about leakage it’s a good idea to wear an absorbent pad. It might feel unsophisticated, but with the right outfit nobody will suspect a thing. Knowing it’s there will help take your mind off the worst-case scenario.
Sanitary pads can work, but they’re not as reliable as incontinence pads or undergarments. If you’ve never worn them before and you’re too embarrassed to ask for the pharmacist’s opinion, pop into an online OAB forum to ask others for recommendations.
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5. Travel Strategically
With holidays come travel, and for some that means long bus trips or flights that can test your bladder control — and add a lot of stress to the season. The key to plan travel early and carefully; booking the right seat, plotting a smart path, and fueling appropriately can make a huge difference.
If you’re flying, book an aisle seat relatively close to a restroom. Pass on liquids during the two hours leading to your departure — cabin pressure changes and your seatbelt can aggravate your bladder, so the emptier, the better.
For any type of travel, divide your daily liquid intake into small portions so you don’t take in too much without realizing, and pack an extra outfit in case you do have an accident. If there’s a road trip in your future, print out a map of your route and mark rest stops clearly.
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6. Know Where You Can “Go”
Whether you’re packing up for a cross-country trip or simply hitting the shops to buy some gifts, you’ll want to know exactly where the bathrooms are in case the urge strikes.
Instead of waiting until you’re on the road or at the mall to see what your options are, try the app Sit or Squat. It makes it really easy to pinpoint exact bathroom locations wherever you may be, and you can see ratings, which should help you avoid the, er, less delightful facilities.
You can even look into the facilities ahead of time, and consider taking the first bathroom opportunity you come across. Even if you don’t think you have to go, emptying your bladder at the start of your trip will offer some insurance against leaks later on.
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7. Keep a Clock Handy
Living at the mercy of your bladder can be a real drag at gatherings, but you can turn the tables by forcing your bladder to work when you want it to. Scheduling your bathroom visits is a useful tool when you’re at a long event away from the comfort of your home.
Keep an eye on the clock and plan to urinate at regular intervals — every hour is the standard, but you might find another plan works better for you. The idea is to visit the bathroom whether or not you have to go, and try to empty your bladder as much as you can each time. It may not be an effective long-term solution for a stronger bladder, but it will help you get through important gatherings without accidents.
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8. Make Changes to Your OAB Management Plan Now
It can take several weeks to start noticing a difference, even if you’ve been doing your Kegel exercises daily, and have avoided all your trigger foods. If you think you could be managing your OAB better, see your doctor right away to revisit your strategy, and work new therapies into your routine now so you can start to see results before the holidays are upon you.
Bladder retraining can be one of the most effective strategies to take back control, and the more time you devote to it, the better the results. Try to take some time to yourself to relax, meditate, and practice your pelvic floor exercises every day. Taking control over your body means balancing work and rest, so all your organs can function more efficiently.