If you have IBS-D, you feel the belly pain that’s common with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and you have to go to the bathroom a lot. The “D” stands for diarrhea.
Some people with IBS have the opposite problem, constipation. That's IBS-C. And some have both, at different times, which is another type of IBS.
There is a wide range of things you can try to help tame your symptoms. It may take some time to hit upon what works best for you, but it can get better.
Plus, your digestive system may be so finicky that any changes
in routine may aggravate symptoms.
Such worries prevent many people from taking out-of-town trips.
In a survey of 1,000 Americans, 28% of respondents with IBS-like symptoms
avoided travel at least once in the past year, reports the International
Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
Nonetheless, IBS patients need not be deprived of
"If it's something that you're really looking forward to
doing, by all means, do it," says Nancy Norton, the IFFGD's president and
founder. "We talk to people (with IBS) all the time who have been
apprehensive about traveling, but they go and let us know they've had a
With courage, preparation, and determination, it is possible to
explore new places with IBS. Perhaps the trip, if relaxing, could even have a
Of course the hassles of travel, such as lost luggage, unhappy
kids, or a bout of traveler's diarrhea, could work against that. But even then,
you may be able to use the same stress management strategies used for daily
pressures at home.
Stress busters include eating a well-balanced diet appropriate
for your IBS, getting enough sleep and exercise, meditation, and doing
Reducing stress may, indeed, be one of the crucial elements to
a good retreat.
"There's definitely a benefit to taking a vacation, but
people need to plan it so that it's not too stressful," says Sheila Crowe,
MD, a gastroenterologist and spokeswoman for the American Gastroenterological
Association (AGA). "Don't feel like you have to see all the sights in the
city. Maybe just enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and then only see two sights
instead of four."
It's important to do things you want to do rather than things
you feel you ought to do, such as visiting everything and everyone, says Crowe.
Resist over-planning and leave room for spontaneity. Yet plan enough so that
you know there are safe places to go to the bathroom.
Here are a few more tips from the experts on how to ease travel