woman nervous about long line to bathroom

5 Ways to Help Navigate Public Restrooms during a Crohn’s Flare

Last updated: September 2022

We’ve all been there. You are out in a public place, be it a restaurant or amusement park and the urgency hits you hard. The panic sets in and the first thing on your mind is, "Where is the bathroom?!"

This is the absolute worst feeling on the planet. As you fast walk/run to the nearest restroom, trying to clench and keep your bowels in check from exploding, your anxiety heightens as you fear for the worst, "Will there be an open stall?"

Unfortunately, this won’t be realized until you make it to your destination and the suspense of it all is nothing but crippling. I have been in this position far too many times and with years of experience, I wanted to share with you a couple of tips I’ve learned along the way to help with moments like these.

Tips for urgent bathroom situations

1. Spot where the restroom is as soon as you arrive

Wherever it is you are going, make sure you know exactly where the restroom is once you arrive. For example, if you are going out to eat, locate where the washroom is in the restaurant. If you know you are going to have urgency, ask the hostess to seat you near the bathroom so that it is easier for you to access. Same with concerts. Try to be efficient with your seating and select seats near the restroom/exit.

Always help yourself out with placing yourself in the most efficient spot to access the restrooms with ease. This will help lower your anxiety, and in the event of unexpected urgency, your trip to the bathroom will be shorter.

2. Always have a toiletry bag in your purse

I never leave the house without the essentials tucked in my purse. I keep a make-up bag filled with the following: baby wipes, peppermint essential oil, clean underwear, Poo-pourri, and pads.

When the urgency hits, I grab my purse and make a run for the bathroom. Knowing I have these items keeps me at ease.

3. Speak up

In the event that there is a line in the bathroom and you are in an emergency situation, speak up! Just tell the person at the front of the line that you have Crohn’s and you are experiencing an emergency if you could please use the next available stall.

I have had to do this before and never have I ever had someone tell me no. People are compassionate and understanding. So please don’t put yourself in a situation where you may have an accident in public just because you were too shy to say something. People are nicer than you think.

4. Breathe

During the panic mode of waiting for a stall or getting to the bathroom, try and take deep breathes. If you begin to panic, the urgency will worsen and you don’t want to end up having an accident. Take deep breathes and assure yourself that you are going to make it. This helps tremendously! Stay as calm as possible.

5. Stay positive

Crohn’s is no easy journey. Yes, the planning and constant alertness for bathroom locations can get old really fast. But at the end of the day, if you get down on yourself, you do nothing but make matters worse. Stay positive. Take things one day at a time.  Make a joke out of the fact that you and public restrooms just can’t get enough of each other. Try not to linger on the hard moments where an almost or full-blown accident may have occurred.

I had a terrible accident once in public which involved diarrhea pouring out of my pants and onto my shoes, but now it's one heck of a story I have to tell. So stay light-hearted, at least you know you aren’t alone. I’ve been there.

Be prepared and stay calm in these situations

I hope these tips help you navigate a flare in public with more ease. They certainly have helped me. Just remember to locate those washrooms, be prepared with a toiletry bag, don’t be afraid to speak up and try to stay as calm as possible.

What tips do you have that have helped you in the past? Share below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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