Urinary Incontinence or faecal incontinence should not turn the holiday you are excited about into something you dread. Air travel with incontinence can be stress-free with the right tips and guidance.
Studies have shown that people with incontinence avoid travelling for more than an hour and avoid going out with family. Catherine DuBeau, a researcher specializing in incontinence, states, “living with incontinence not only causes great unhappiness but can also increase social isolation”. However, successful air travel with incontinence is possible. It requires preparation, organisation and research.
The following tips can make a plane journey with incontinence much easier:
1. Research and be Proactive
The first important thing to do before flying is to be proactive and research the environment you will be faced with. If you can, try and choose seats as close to the toilet as possible. If you’re not able to sit close to a restroom, try and choose a seat next to the aisle. Before travelling, it may be a good idea to call your airline and ask about the configuration of the plane. In larger aircraft, there is likely to be three bathroom locations. You will normally have one at the front of first class, one in the middle of the plane and one in the rear of the aircraft. You can also make your airline aware of your incontinence before flying to make life easier. Ensure you talk to the aircraft before the plane sets off. Incontinence specialist Wendy Latorre states, “before the plane door closes, alert the flight attendant about your incontinence. This can be helpful if the plane gets stuck on the tarmac”.
Taking prescribed medication beforehand can further help to reduce your worries. Urologist Gazala Siddiqui asserts, “if you have to think twice before you travel, get medications”. Even knowing you have taken a tablet can go a long way when taking a flight. Steve Goelman, CEO of Unique Wellness and manufacturer of briefs highlights the importance of finding the correct medication before travelling. He asserts, “take care of yourself. Ask your Doctor about the medication you can take before travel to make you feel more confident”.
2. Have Protection to Hand
Although this is likely something you are already extra pre-cautious about, ensure you stock up on your protective products before leaving home. Do not settle for a sanitary product that is not designed for managing incontinence, there are many products in the market that provide discretion and protection. It may be a good idea to consider higher capacity products than normal. For your own piece of mind, a product with a much higher absorbency than normal can significantly reduce your worries. Bear in mind that disposable products can take up a substantial amount of luggage space, so be wise with the products you choose to bring along. Managing incontinence with products that are safe, healthy and don’t require multiple changes throughout the flight can make your journey much less stressful. Our Product Guides section can provide you with guidance on choosing products.
The following products may also be useful to take alongside you to ensure a hygienic and clean journey:
- Disposable paper toilet seat covers. These can help you feel more comfortable if hygiene on a flight is a huge worry for you
- A small bottle of water. It is important to stay hydrated during a flight, as dehydration can irritate the bladder further.
- Extra toilet paper and tissues. An aeroplane toilet may not be equipped with the essentials by the end of the flight.
- Cleansing wipes and other skin care products.
Recommended Products for Travelling
3. Watch your Food and Drink Intake
It can be tempting to order sugary sweets and a cold coke on the plane. However, if you are aiming for a worry-free journey, think twice about drinking consuming bladder irritants in excess. Try and stick to flavoured water and non-caffeinated drinks to reduce your risk of leakages. Sipping on water instead of chugging will prevent sudden bathroom leakages. However, it is wise to avoid drinking too much liquid before flying. Food wise, try and avoid foods high in salt or spicy foods. As Urologist Jean Fourcroy states, “we forget that some of the things we eat are causing our problems”. Eat light meals to avoid feeling uncomfortable or queasy. It is easy to upset your body clock when travelling, so avoid overeating to ensure you won't feel bloated.
4. Ask For Help
Asking your GP or Doctor for help before travelling can be invaluable. You could even enquire with your Doctor about a letter stating your medical history and why you may need to use medications on the plane. If you would feel more comfortable having a management plan, you can also ask your Doctor to provide you with one of these in case you become anxious. You can even take a contact number for your GP in case you require medical advice while you are away.
A number of studies have confirmed that people tend to avoid situations that may provoke episodes of urinary incontinence. Do not let this ruin your holiday and remember that it can be managed with the right approach. Trying methods to strengthen your pelvic floor before going away can be helpful in reducing leakages and improving your confidence. You can read about how to do pelvic floor exercises here.