General Information

Tips for Travelers with BPH (Prostate Enlargement)

Last Updated:

Daniel L. Watson, M.D.

If you are a man over the age of 50, you might have Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). BPH refers to the enlargement of the prostate gland that typically occurs with age. Most men are familiar with the symptoms:

Slow urinary stream
Hesitancy when starting to urinate
Frequent trips to the bathroom at night, for example.

If you are already being treated for prostate enlargement, remember to pack your medication in your carry-on bag. In case you’re not sure what you’re taking, note that Flomax, Cardura, Hytrin, and Proscar are the most common.

Avoid cold and flu remedies. This is especially true in a foreign country where you may not recognize the ingredients of the available over-the-counter medications.

Cold and flu medications often contain antihistamines and/or decongestants, both of which can adversely affect your ability to urinate. Antihistamines do so by relaxing the bladder muscle; decongestants do it by tightening the neck of the bladder and muscles around the prostate gland.

The end result is that these medications can slow your stream to a trickle or stop it completely, which usually means a trip to the emergency room.

If you have symptoms of BPH, Kleenex and plain ibuprofen or acetaminophen are better options for treating a cold.
Consider these common sense suggestions:

Bring a nightlight–or leave a light on in your room–so you can find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

On airplanes, many travelers with BPH are more comfortable in aisle seats, which allow easier access to the bathroom.
As always, make sure to pack all your medications in your carry-on luggage.

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