Friday, January 18, 2013

Interstitial Cystitis and Traveling (Car Trips)

staying comfortable with bladder pain in the car
Many IC patients see my pictures on Facebook and wonder how I can engage in some of the activities I do, in particular, traveling and taking vacations. Certainly, traveling with IC can require some creativity and a healthy dose of problem solving, but it is definitely worth it! 

We only have one life to live and after almost two years doing nothing when I was diagnosed, I made up my mind I was going to live! Some of my first trips were day trips across the state to take my children to camp about four hours from our house. At first I was embarrassed to stop to use the restroom so often during such a short trip, but if I was going to be any sort of mother at all, I knew I needed to develop coping skills. 

Other things that can help you if you need to travel in the car for long distances:
  • Use special pelvic seat cushions that you can buy from the Interstitial Cystitis Network. 
  • Take a bladder analgesic before you leave on your trip.  Medications like phenazopyridine hydrocholoride (brand names AZO Standard, Pyridium, and other over the counter versions sold at your pharmacy) and Uribel (a combination medication) can help make your ride more comfortable. Note: Always consult your physician before you use a medication, and be aware that bladder analgesics can turn your urine (and thus stain your clothing) a bright orange or blue color. You might want to take precautions by wearing a personal liner or pad.
  • Learn to use your GPS or smartphone to find bathrooms along your route. Sometimes just knowing where they are is enough to take the edge off. (There are many, but here are a couple I found for you to try. Please do research before you purchase. Android or iPhone)
  • Take your own food and water with you if you are diet sensitive. Crackers, plain sandwiches, cut carrots and celery, pears, and muffins are easily transported. You can even make your own trail mix with white chocolate chips, bladder safe nuts, mini-pretzels, and IC safe cereals. Alternatives are simple, condiment free hamburgers from fast food restaurants, some chicken nuggets/tenders (know what you can eat safely), pretzels, nuts, salads without dressing (yes you can do it!), and even vanilla milk shakes.
  • Finally, if you are a passenger and not the driver, take a pillow, blanket, some soothing music or meditations, and even ear plugs along to rest and/or even sleep part of the way.
How do you cope having interstitial cystitis and longer car trips? Please share your traveling and/or Smartphone ideas with other patients in the comments below.

For more information on traveling with IC, see:

Confident Choices IC Diet Facebook Page 
Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet: A Confident Choices Book

If you would like to buy the products listed in this blog, please consider using the links. This is a painless way for you to support our work. Thank you.

Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate

Helping Yourself Is the First Step to Getting Well

For step by step guidance for creating your own personal interstitial cystitis meal plan, see: Confident Choices®: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet.

For some basic, family-style, IC bladder-friendly recipes, see: Confident Choices®: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder

 **Please SHARE using the links below!**


  1. I have found AZO to be the drug from hell. Just wanted to tell others AZO and cranberries are very aggravating to IC suffers. I would really be careful with any fruits. Most contain histamines which really aggravate the bladder but if you must take an antihistimine and also a drug called Prelief, over the counter that helps to absorb the acids in foods.

    1. Hi Rua! Did you try the AZO Standard, or the AZO with the cranberries? There are different kinds. The AZO Standard is safe to use with interstitial cystitis, the kind with cranberries is not. You are right, no no no cranberries or cranberry products are good with IC.

      Prelief works for about half the patients out there, and when it works, it works really well. It doesn't work for me, but I still recommend it!

  2. Also I wanted to mention don't wait for your Dr. to diagnois you. If you have frequent UTI's start reading on IC, painful bladder and painful pelvice syndrome and start the diet right away. It will let you know if it is really UTIs or IC.

    1. Absolutely priceless advice! Thank you, Rua! Two good websites are the Interstitial Cystitis Network and the Interstitial Cystitis Association! Thank you for your contributions!

    2. When flying Jet Blue, pay the extra money for extra room seat situated at the front of the plane. The bathroom is closer and the seats let you get up more easily.

  3. When I have an IC flare-up, or am on a lengthy road trip, I add a teaspoon of baking soda to my 12oz. glass of water or water bottle. This helps balance my urine pH. This has helped me now for years. My uro-gynecologist is fine with this, too. Sometimes all I need is one glass. Other times I may need more than one glass throughout my day....or days....