6 Tips for Traveling with a Neurogenic Bladder
Neurogenic bladder affects people of all ages, but it should stop no one from traveling and having a good experience. This article will go over the six things you should consider before going on your next big trip. The tips in this article only apply to people with urinary retention as the result of their neurogenic bladder.
1. Visit your doctor before you go
Tell your doctor about your plans and see if there’s any restriction on the kinds of activities you can engage in. Refill prescription drugs if you’re running low. Ask your doctors for tips on how to manage emergencies relating to your condition.
If you or your doctor thinks there’s a chance of you needing medical care during your trip, you may want to look into travel insurance as well.
2. Pack your catheters in different places
Since intermittent catheters are not sold over the counter, you need to have enough on your trip. Disperse your catheters in multiple luggage and bags so you don’t lose all of them if one of your luggage is lost.
Remember to bring enough catheters with you every time you go out. Take into consideration that in a foreign city you may get lost or stuck in traffic, so bring a couple more than you need.
3. Plan out your bathroom breaks
Find out if there are toilets available at different points of your day trip. Sometimes private businesses may not let you use their bathroom without being a customer, and public restrooms are nowhere to be seen. Other times public restrooms require you to pay in coins or small bills (especially in Europe). You would need to prepare for these possibilities.
If you are traveling through somewhere with very few human establishments, consider bringing closed system catheters. These catheters have a urine collection bag attached so you can self-catheterize in any private space. You can empty the bag later and wouldn’t have to use a toilet.
4. Have a plan for sanitation
Many bathrooms may not be as clean as you like. Bring a clean cloth with you to lay down your catheter supplies. Bathrooms may also run out of soap, toilet paper, or the faucet can be broken so you have no water to wash your hands. Since you need to wash your hands before you self-catheterize, bring antiseptic wipes, clean gloves, and hand sanitizers as backups.
5. Do everything you can to avoid UTIs
If you have urinary retention as a result of neurogenic bladder, your chance of getting a UTI is already higher than average. You need to drink plenty of water and catheterize regularly to avoid retaining urine. The bacteria in retained urine can multiply and infect the bladder.
To avoid catheter-associated UTIs, bring catheters with a no-touch design that doesn’t require you to touch the catheter as you insert it. Study finds that this decreases the chance of catheter contamination.
Bring single-use sterile catheters instead of reusable catheters. One study finds that after an anti-bacterial wash, 44% of reusable catheters are still contaminated. Some researchers recommend single-use catheters because people make mistakes when sterilizing their own catheters. When you’re in a foreign environment away from your doctor, you might want to play it safe.
Pack light but don’t forgo essentials
Look into getting travel catheters for your trip—they serve the same purpose as regular catheters but are more compact and easy to use.
Travel catheters are pre-lubricated catheters that eliminate the hassle of bringing your own lubricants with you.
If you have hydrophilic catheters that are pre-packaged with sterile water pouches, it can be bulky and heavy when you’re traveling. CompactCath’s catheter is pre-lubricated with antibacterial silicone oil, and it is compact and no-touch.