Key Travel Tips For People With Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. While the condition is manageable, it can often present various challenges when you are planning a holiday trip. Between eating unfamiliar food and different time zones, these factors combined may worsen your condition.
While IBS may be a lifelong medical condition, it does not mean you should let it affect your travel plans. You may simply have to take a few extra precautions to minimise the risk of a flare-up.
1. Know your symptoms
While IBS generally affects the large intestine, each individual’s symptoms can vary. The most common symptom is abdominal pain, but you may also encounter the following experiences:
- Excessive gas
- abdominal bloating
- Cramping in the lower abdomen
- Constipation or hard bowel movements
- Diarrhoea or loose bowels
Recognising and understanding your specific condition enables you to get a better handle on your IBS. This experience will allow you to prepare yourself and gain some control over your condition before you travel. After all, no one wants to experience a flare-up in the middle of their flight.
2. Plan ahead and consider ways to relax
Travelling can sometimes be a stressful experience, and anxiety and stress can often be a trigger for IBS. Our gastrointestinal tract is more connected to our brain than any of our organ systems, so when you experience stress, it can throw off your digestive tract.
To minimise the risk of your IBS flaring up due to stress, it is vital for you to plan ahead of your holiday trip. Consider packing for your vacation early, so you will have time to ensure you have everything you need for your trip. This also gives you extra time to shop for any missing item on your packing list.
You can consider adopting several stress reduction techniques to calm yourself down before your flight. Some excellent methods you can consider include:
- Deep breathing
- Listening to your favourite music
- Looking at relaxing imagery
3. Be careful what you eat on holiday
Travelling to a new destination offers plenty of opportunities to try out new food. However, those with IBS may be sensitive to a specific food. So when you are travelling to a foreign land, you might want to steer clear of unfamiliar cuisine.
Additionally, it is advisable to inquire about the ingredients included in a dish before ordering them. For example, if lactose or glucose is an issue for your digestive system, you might want to ask if the restaurant offers gluten-free or lactose-free menu items.
Furthermore, depending on your diet restrictions, you may want to limit the intake of foods that include dairy, gluten, or caffeine. Lastly, ensure you stay hydrated and consume ample fibre to aid in the passing of stools.
4. Adhere to the 25 per cent rule
Significant changes to your diet can trigger your IBS symptoms. So it might not be advisable to splurge on your travels, as it might have an adverse impact on your condition. A good rule of thumb is to drink 25 per cent more water and consume 25 per cent less than you normally do. Consuming more fluid helps you to maintain a regular bathroom schedule, and reducing your food consumption minimises the risk of you triggering your IBS.
You need not worry about your IBS disrupting your holiday, as this condition is manageable. By adopting the precautions we have shared, travelling overseas can remain a fuss-free experience for you.
However, if you have been experiencing symptoms like IBS recently, you might want to consider visiting a colonoscopy clinic to get yourself checked up. Several medical conditions, such as endometriosis and Crohn’s disease, have similar symptoms to IBS. Therefore, it is advisable to undergo a proper evaluation to rule out those conditions.