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Digestive Problems: 10 Tips for Daily Life

4. Stay Hydrated, but Drink with Care

Water is essential to good health and normal bowel function. Water also helps keep stools soft but solid and well-formed. Avoid drinking beverages such as coffee or soda if you think they trigger your digestive problems.

When diarrhea strikes, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Water and sports drinks (which replace lost minerals called electrolytes) are good choices. Caffeine and alcohol can worsen dehydration.

Increase your fluid intake in hot weather and any time you exercise vigorously. Drinking water helps prevent dehydration, a potentially dangerous imbalance where your body loses more water than it takes in.

To prevent “traveler’s diarrhea,” avoid potentially contaminated water and anything that might have come into contact with water. Sip bottled water, juice, or sports drinks when you’re on the road. Remember that contaminated water may be used to make ice and popsicles, coffee, or tea, and to rinse raw fruit and vegetables.

5. Practice Healthy Hygiene for Better Digestion

Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after you use the bathroom and before eating or preparing food. This helps prevent transmitting potentially dangerous bacteria to your food.

If diarrhea causes pain or itching, try using premoistened, alcohol-free towelettes (not harsh soap) to clean the anal area. Keep the skin dry by wearing cotton underwear and loose, comfortable clothes that breathe.

6. Prepare for Digestive Emergencies

No matter how well you plan, accidents may happen. Be prepared by keeping emergency supplies on hand at home, work or school, and on the road. Discrete, portable packaging is available for many products. Here are some products to try:

  • Fast-acting medication (for gas, bloating, or diarrhea)
  • Pre-moistened travel wipes
  • An extra pair of underwear
  • Disposable pads or underwear for incontinence
  • Plastic bags to dispose of soiled wipes and clothes

Stash these supplies in your purse, car, suitcase, and your desk at work, then put your mind at ease. If accidents or fecal incontinence persists, talk to your doctor.

7. Manage Stress for Digestive Tranquility

Does stress seem to cause or aggravate your digestive problems? (Having frequent digestive flare-ups can be, in itself, a stress factor.) You may be able to relieve stress with relaxing pursuits such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or a favorite hobby.

Be realistic and flexible as you adapt stress management activities to your individual needs. For example, attending a yoga class might make you feel insecure on a day when your digestive problems flare up. In that case, work out with a DVD in the privacy of your own home.

Not all stress can be avoided. To find ways to deal with tough situations and relationships, consider asking a friend or therapist to help you.

Next Article:

What triggers your digestive distress?