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Slideshow: Easing Constipation on Vacation

Pack Food for the Road

Finding healthy food choices on the road can be an adventure. Don't fill up on low-fiber foods at fast food chains, rest stops, or airports. Instead, pack a few high-fiber snacks for your trip to help keep you regular. Good choices include whole grain crackers, dried or fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, or whole grain cereals.

Don't Forget Fiber

Trading in your whole grain cereal for chocolate croissants while on vacation? Then make sure to get fiber somewhere else in your diet. Not eating enough fiber is a common cause of constipation, whether you’re on vacation or not. Try eating 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit every day. Beans and whole grain breads also help add bulk.

Limit Low-Fiber Foods

Many of the foods you might love on vacation -- like snack foods and dessert -- can actually make constipation worse. Common culprits include cheese, sweets, meats, pizza, processed foods, chips, and ice cream. If constipation becomes a problem, limit these foods to occasional treats.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Drinking extra fluids may not relieve your constipation, but it can make stools softer and easier to pass. Getting enough fluids can also help prevent dehydration, which can cause constipation. Carry a water bottle with you and keep it filled. If you can’t get clean tap water, drink plenty of bottled spring water, fruit juice, or other non-caffeinated drinks.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Drinking a margarita by the poolside may sound heavenly, but it could add to your constipation problems. Alcohol and caffeine can cause dehydration. If you’re prone to constipation while traveling, try to limit alcohol and drinks with caffeine. Or, drink plenty of water when you enjoy these beverages to make sure you stay hydrated.

Stay Active

Traveling often means sitting -- in a car, train, boat, or plane. Unfortunately, when you stop moving, so may your bowels. If you’re sitting for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to move around. And once you reach your destination, schedule physical activities -- like long walks or bike rides -- to get your body moving.

Don't Ignore Your Body

There are many reasons why you might ignore the urge to have a bowel movement while on vacation. You might feel uncomfortable using a public restroom or be too busy sightseeing to find a place to go. But ignoring the urge can sometimes lead to constipation. Instead of putting it off, use the restroom when you feel the need to.

Plan for Bathroom Breaks

If you usually use the restroom at a certain time of day, try to plan for this during your vacation. Give yourself time to relax. You may find reading a magazine or newspaper helps. If you don’t have a bowel movement in 10 minutes, try again later when you have the urge.

Prepare for Travel

If you often have constipation when you travel, prepare ahead of time. One way is to start taking a stool softener or a bulk-forming laxative a few days to a week before you leave. Then continue taking it while you’re on vacation. This will help soften your stool and make it easier to pass.

Use Laxatives Wisely

If diet and exercise don't help, you may want to try a laxative. Using laxatives too often can make your body dependent on them. So you should only use them for a short time. Many types of laxatives are available over the counter. In some cases, you may need a prescription laxative. Ask your doctor what's best for you.

When to Get Help

In some cases, constipation can cause hemorrhoids or tears in the skin around the anus. This can lead to bleeding from the rectum or blood in your stool. In more severe cases, constipation can lead to impaction, where stool becomes stuck in the rectum. If you have blood in your stool, or if your constipation is so severe that you cannot pass any stool, call your doctor.

Relieving Constipation, Staying on the Move

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on April 20, 2012

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