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How Summer Traveling Can Cause Occasional Constipation and Digestive Issues

Summer is here; for most people, that means going on vacations or visiting friends or family out of town. While traveling during summer is fun and exciting, it can also wreak havoc on your digestive system. Traveling will change your typical daily schedule, and your tummy doesn’t always know how to respond.

In most cases, this unexpected change results in bowel irregularities, often in the form of constipation. In fact, according to the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, roughly 40% of people who travel during summer experience occasional constipation. If it gets severe enough, constipation can cause discomfort and take away from the fun that traveling is supposed to offer.

If you want to know how to stay regular and avoid constipation while traveling this summer, you’ve come to the right place. The tips and tricks you learn in this article also apply to other times of the year.

Why Do People Experience Occasional Constipation When They Travel?


Whether you’re aware of it or not, everyone has what’s known as a “bowel movement schedule.” A bowel movement schedule refers to how many bowel movements you typically have in a day or week and at what time.

Everyone’s bowel schedule is different; some people may have two or three BMs daily, while others have two or three weekly. In addition to the number of BMs you have per day or week, they often occur on a consistent schedule.

When you’re traveling, however, this schedule gets thrown out of whack. For instance, you might be on a plane, train, or in a car and won’t be near a restroom when you would typically have a bowel movement. Unfortunately, the longer you have to hold it in and refrain from using the bathroom, the worse your occasional constipation will become.


Other Factors


Traveling can also alter other aspects of your everyday life. This includes your diet, when you typically eat, the amount of water you drink, your sleep schedule, and the amount of exercise you’re getting. Traveling can also be stressful, further complicating your ability to stay regular.

As a result, your digestive system gets confused and doesn’t know how to respond. In many cases, this leads to delays and slowdowns in how food passes through your digestive system, resulting in constipation.


How to Know When You’re Constipated


Contrary to what you may think, occasional constipation isn’t just when you can’t go number 2. It can also be when bowel movements are difficult, cause discomfort, or smaller than usual. If you’re worried about occasional constipation during your travels, you must know the signs and symptoms to watch out for.

  • Mild to severe stomach ache
  • Inability to pass stool
  • Bowel movements that cause discomfort or are difficult
  • Unusually small bowel movements
  • Bloating
  • Fewer bowel movements than usual
  • Mild nausea
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Feeling bloated or sluggish

If you are experiencing several of these symptoms simultaneously, there’s a good chance you’re constipated and need to take action to remedy the situation.

6 Ways to Avoid Constipation During Your Summer Travels

If you’re worried about experiencing occasional constipation during your summer travels or are currently struggling to have a BM, here are six tips to help you stay regular.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking lots of water and electrolytes is essential if you want to avoid occasional constipation while traveling. Water interacts with the food inside your stomach, making it softer and more soluble. As a result, it’s less likely to harden and refuse to pass through your digestive tract.

Have a Morning Cup of Tea or Coffee

While water is the most important fluid for staying regular, a hot cup of coffee or tea in the morning is also good. Coffee and tea, as long as they’re caffeinated, can stimulate your digestive system into action. This will help to “get the ball rolling,” so to speak, and help you stay on your regular poop schedule.

Increase Your Fiber Intake

Along with fluids, fiber is another key component in helping you avoid occasional constipation. According to Harvard University, fiber is essential for helping your stool remain soft and mobile. Fiber is found in many foods, such as apples, bran cereal, beans, potatoes, and whole grains. If you can’t find a way to get enough fiber from your diet, fiber supplements are also a viable option.

Try to Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Although it might be difficult depending on what you’re doing, it’s important to stick to as many schedules as possible, including your sleep schedule. With all the other changes your body is getting put through, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help offset some of them.

Go For a Walk or Jog

If you ask anyone in the medical field how to have a bowel movement when you’re constipated, they’ll most likely tell you to go for a walk. Although walking and exercising are uncomfortable when you’re stuffed up, it will kick your digestive system into action and get things moving.

Use Over-the-Counter Laxatives

If you’ve tried the methods above and they aren’t helping with your occasional constipation, you might consider using an over-the-counter laxative. However, commercial laxatives utilize a variety of different chemical compounds that can create additional issues. In contrast, you may consider a natural supplement, such as magnesium which is a preferred means to help you alleviate occasional constipation. Magnesium increases the water content in your intestines, which can soften your stool and initiate a bowel movement.*

Final Thoughts About How to Avoid Travel Constipation

Occasional constipation is fairly common, however, if you’ve been constipated for some time and are experiencing extremely painful bowel movements, have blood in your stool, or have unbearable nausea or stomach pain, you should see a doctor.

If you don’t want occasional constipation to derail your traveling experience this summer, it’s important to follow the tips and tricks in this article to stay regular. By doing so, you can avoid the discomfort of occasional constipation and make the most of your summer travels!

References

Irritable bowel syndrome subtypes according to bowel habit:… : European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology (lww.com)
Travel tummy troubles: Here’s how to prevent or soothe them – Harvard Health