Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal health condition that causes symptoms like abdominal cramping, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. While the cause of IBS is unclear, it most likely is related to an overly sensitive colon or immune system. Up to 16% of the population in the United States struggles with IBS and it tends to affect women more than men.
While IBS rarely poses any serious health risk, it can impact your life in significant ways, especially when you travel. Stress, different foods, and lack of sleep can all contribute to a flare-up of IBS.
Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, and our team at GI Physicians, Inc. in Lima, Ohio, understand that traveling with IBS can be difficult and stressful. Here we offer some tips on how to travel with IBS so you can have a carefree trip.
1. Avoid trigger foods
Most people with IBS have trigger foods, and even if you already know what they are, it’s important to additionally avoid alcohol, fatty foods, and caffeine since these things can trigger symptoms.
You should also bring foods along that you know are safe for you to eat. However, if this isn’t possible, preview restaurant menus before you go so you know what food is available. You should strive to eat foods that are inside your normal diet routine.
2. Take probiotics
Getting food poisoning is always a possibility when you travel, so it’s important to be proactive against this and traveler’s diarrhea. Begin taking probiotics or other supplements a few days before you start traveling to not only prevent these conditions but also to calm your IBS.
3. Manage stress
Traveling is always going to be stressful in some capacity. Because your brain and gut are connected, stress is most likely going to trigger an IBS flare-up. This is why it’s so essential to try and keep up parts of your daily routine to give your body a sense of normalcy.
If you normally work out every day, don’t skip out on exercise while you’re traveling. Also, try to get the same amount of sleep each night as you normally do at home.
You can also manage stress by practicing meditation and mindfulness, doing deep breathing exercises, listening to your favorite music, or focusing on relaxing imagery to calm your mind (and your gut).
If you’re taking a trip soon and would like more information on how to travel with IBS, contact our office by giving us a call or scheduling an appointment online today.