The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders states that IBS affects 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population, so you’re not alone if you feel restricted come travel season due to your condition. However, you can still get on the road or even travel abroad with IBS if you take some precautions and plan ahead.
Here are some tips on managing symptoms and preventing IBS flare-ups while on vacation this summer.
Before You Go
·When planning your trip, decide carefully whether you want to drive or fly. Depending on the distance, it may be worth it to opt for a road trip because it allows you more control if you suddenly need to stop. If you fly, try to choose an aisle seat for easy access to the restroom. If you drive, map out a careful route and make note of rest stops along the way.
·See your gastroenterologist in the weeks leading up to your trip to make sure you’re up to date on your medications and to ask whether he or she has any recommendations specifically for you. Also, ask whether it’s OK for you to call with any questions while on your trip.
·Pack a kit with anything you might need in case of a flare-up. Depending on your symptoms, you may need anything from adult diapers and anti-diarrheal medication to laxatives and pain relievers.
·If you’re traveling abroad, study up and learn some key terms in the country’s native language. People will tell you that English is spoken everywhere, but you don’t want to test that theory in the middle of a bathroom emergency.
While You’re There
·Avoid your triggers, whether they’re certain foods or stressful activities. Tempting as it may be, now is not the time to try a new type of food or head to an overly crowded destination. Stick with safe food choices and leisurely activities, and steer clear of places that tend to have long bathroom lines, like amusement parks.
·When you’re feeling well, eat lots of nutrient-dense foods that you know are safe. This will help you maintain that good feeling throughout your trip, as well as fuel your body for touring the city.
·Divide your medication into two or three containers and keep one with you, one in your hotel, and one with your travel companion to ensure you always have access.
·Practice stress management techniques – such as yoga, meditation, or tai chi – when you start to feel anxiety. You may be traveling to get away from stressors, but bear in mind that vacation is never relaxing 100 percent of the time, particularly if you’re flying.
While it may be tempting to head to the drug store for OTC medication for immediate relief, we caution you to think twice! Read more on OTC and the effects it has on gastrointestinal disorders.
If you need help managing your IBS symptoms, call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.