Travel constipation, as the name suggests, refers to constipation a person may experience while traveling. Multiple factors can contribute to changes in bowel frequency. However, many remedies can help treat or prevent travel constipation.
Also known as vacation constipation, travel constipation describes when a person is unable to pass a bowel movement according to their regular schedule. This can occur for many reasons, including changes to diet or physical activity, which are both common when traveling.
If a person experiences changes to their bowel movements, there are many remedies and treatment options to help manage constipation and also help prevent it from occurring in the first place.
This article discusses the causes, remedies, and prevention tips for travel constipation.
When traveling, it is common for people to experience stomach issues, which can include indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation. Typically, this occurs due to how traveling may disrupt the body’s natural rhythm. For example, time changes, altered eating schedules, and insufficient sleep and activity levels can all affect digestion.
As such, travel is a common cause of constipation. In addition to traveling, other risk factors for experiencing constipation
- certain medications and supplements, such as diuretics, narcotics, and calcium channel blockers
- changing medications
- being pregnant
- older age
- ignoring the urge to pass stool
- changes to diet or physical activity levels
- not consuming enough fiber
- certain health conditions, such as celiac disease, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes
When experiencing travel constipation, a person may consider some of the following remedies to help return to their regular schedule and find relief:
- Maintaining hydration: Experiencing dehydration is a common cause of constipation, and ensuring sufficient hydration can help encourage a bowel movement. In addition to water, other beverages may help stimulate the urge to go. For example, lemon juice, prune juice, tea, coffee, and clear soups can help lubricate the digestive system and soften stool, which can make it easier for a person to empty their bowels completely.
- Eating fruit: Many types of fruit are a healthy option rich in fiber, water, and certain sugars that can help with digestion and promote movement in the gastrointestinal tract. Fruits that may help relieve constipation include apples, pears, kiwis, blackberries, raspberries, and grapes.
- Consuming other foods: Eating certain foods may help to encourage a bowel movement. For example, eating foods high in fiber or probiotics may help reduce constipation by softening stools, speeding up how quickly stools pass through the intestines and improve gut health. This can include sauerkraut, pulses, yogurt, kefir, whole wheat bread, pasta, bran, and cereals.
- Avoiding foods with a high fat content: While some foods can encourage bowel movements, those with a high fat content may contribute toward constipation. This is because the body has difficulty processing fat.
- Oils: Consuming certain oils may help to lubricate intestinal walls and encourage stool to flow through the gut. This can include having 1 teaspoon of olive oil or eating foods rich in omega-3, such as fish, avocados, hemp, and flaxseed.
- Flowering plants: Both ginger and fennel can help to relieve constipation. Ginger can reduce pressure on the lower intestines and may decrease symptoms such as bloating. Fennel is a natural laxative and encourages bowel movements by increasing gastric enzymes in the digestive system.
- Positioning: If a person feels the urge to poop, but is unable to do so, they may benefit from trying different positions. By adjusting their position, such as having knees higher than the hips and keeping a straight back, they may find it easier to pass stool.
Other treatment options for relieving travel constipation may include physical activity or stopping certain supplements or medications. However, a person should not change or stop any medicines or supplements without first contacting a healthcare professional.
Additionally, a person may want to consider using over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives. These
- fiber supplements
- osmotic agents
- stool softeners
To help prevent travel constipation, a person can aim to stay as close to their regular routine as usual. By doing so, travel should not have too large an affect on their digestion. Other prevention tips may include:
- increasing fiber intake
- getting more exercise
- drinking more water
- going when a person feels the urge to pass stool
If self-care or OTC treatments are not working, a person may consider contacting a doctor. They can advise other tips for relief or prescribe medications to treat constipation. These
Additionally, people should seek medical attention for constipation if the
- severe discomfort or worsening symptoms
- blood in the stool or bleeding from the rectum
- constant pain in the abdomen or lower back
- unexpected weight loss
- difficulty passing gas
- a fever
Travel constipation occurs when lifestyle changes a person may experience during a vacation affects the frequency of their bowel movements. Irregular bathroom breaks and changes to diet and exercise can affect digestion and lead to constipation.
In such situations, a person can try remedies, such as drinking fluids and eating fruit, or OTC laxatives to encourage a bowel movement. If these methods do not work, or a person experiences other gastrointestinal symptoms, they should consider contacting a doctor.