Prevent Stomach Problems During Travel
During a vacation, you want to travel and see the sights instead of spending your time in a hotel room suffering from traveler’s diarrhea or traveler’s constipation. In order to avoid stomach symptoms and have a great trip, use some preventive measures explained by the experts.
What is traveler’s diarrhea?
Call it as you like – traveler’s diarrhea (TD), traveler’s tummy, the traveler’s trot, Montezuma’s revenge, Delhi belly, the Toltec two-step – these are just different names for the same bug. TD can be experienced through unpleasant symptoms including:
- Moderate-to-severe diarrhea (sometimes with fever);
- Stomach cramps.
Potentially, TD can be dangerous if not treated and may lead to severe dehydration and malnutrition.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that between 30-70% of all international travelers suffer from the symptoms of TD. One of the most common causes of having bad travel stool is the side effect of a vaccine against E. coli bacteria. Among other reasons for getting RD are:
- Individual intolerability because of irritable bowel;
- A new diet that may irritate the digestive system, especially when tasting some foreign foods for the first time;
- Jet lag;
- A change in climate;
- A recent stomach surgery;
- A lack of sleep;
According to WebMD, traveler’s diarrhea treatment can be done without visiting a doctor – at least, its mild-to-moderate forms. The severest symptoms of traveler’s tummy are likely to clear up on their own during 1-2 days.
Health care specialists from the WebMD team recommend starting treatment of TD without fever by drinking as many bottled fluids as possible (the pick can be water or Gatorade). Such drinks as sweetened sodas, coffees, teas, and alcoholic drinks may only worsen dehydration. Oral rehydration salts may be also helpful.
However, if you have a combination of fever diarrhea, you may want to take some medications to relieve these symptoms. It is best to visit a traveler’s clinic before leaving on your vacation. At this visit, ask your health care provider if they can prescribe you medication in case of traveler’s diarrhea or sickness.
Be careful! Do not hesitate to visit a health care specialist if TD lasts longer than 4 days. It can be a symptom of more serious stomach disorders like dysentery, giardiasis, cholera, and other intestinal disorders.
How can you prevent traveler’s diarrhea?
If you want to prevent traveler’s diarrhea during your vacation, particularly when visiting a foreign country, you can take following preventative measures:
- Consider taking a full course of travel probiotics before the travel. These supplements containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum may protect your digestive system from food poisoning when tasting foreign meals;
- When traveling in foreign countries, try avoid food and drinks with ice cubes along with salads, raw fruits and vegetables;
- Stick to bottled water rather than drinking from the tap. Also, use bottled water to brush your teeth;
- Eating unpasteurized beverages and foods may be also a bad idea when you are traveling;
- Consume only cooked meat while it is steaming hot;
- Avoid buying foods from the street vendors;
- Exclude caffeine, dairy products, and sugary snacks or drinks from your diet.
How can you prevent constipation while traveling?
Diarrhea is not the only problem that your stomach may suffer from while being on vacation. Constipation due to a slow or blocked bowel movement can lead to severe abdominal pains, bloating, gas, and general discomfort. How can you prevent this problem?
- Try staying away from any meds and supplements that may trigger constipation, including antacid pills, calcium or iron supplements, and diuretics;
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially bottled water;
- Eating plenty of fiber can be also helpful;
- Don’t put off visiting a bathroom when you need to go;
- Stress can lead to constipation, so try to relax.
Prevention of heartburn when traveling
Heartburn or acid reflux is another nasty stomach problem that may hit you while traveling. If you have suffered from the symptoms of heartburn at home, you should cautious about what you eat and drink during a trip. Here’s how you can control heartburn:
- One of the most common causes of heartburn is eating large meals. That is why if you are hungry, try sticking to small meals and frequent snacks;
- After eating, try staying awake and avoid laying down. Try using a special acid reflux pillow or keep your head raised while sleeping;
- Your diet for acid reflux shouldn’t change while traveling. Also, consider staying away from alcohol and smoke;
- If necessary, don’t hesitate to take your habitual medical or natural remedy for acid reflux.
Tips for gas control
Having gas may be not just uncomfortable but also embarrassing. Excessive gas during a trip may develop because of eating high-fiber foods or raw vegetables/fruits. People who have a lactose intolerance can also suffer from bloating if they eat any dairy products. That is why you should stick to the preventive measures described in the TD section to reduce the risks of being bloated to the minimum.
It can be very tempting to taste exotic fruits, vegetable and meals while visiting a foreign country, but if you have a sensitive stomach think twice, unless you are eager to get a closer look at the local bathrooms as well.