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Avanti Travel Insurance blog

18 Feb

Have You Been Affected By Holiday Constipation?

Toilet signsWhy Do Some People Suffer With Holiday Constipation?

Many people suffer from an unlikely side effect of travelling – constipation. We look at the causes and the preventative measures that you can take.

For most of us, a trip abroad is something to look forward to. For others, however, the annual holiday can bring about a rather unpleasant side effect – constipation. Regardless of how ‘regular’ they may be when they are at home, travelling can often mean days without any bowel movements whatsoever. Naturally, this uncomfortable problem can leave the sufferer feeling bloated and swollen – not exactly what you want when you are trying to relax!

What Causes Holiday Constipation?

Much of the problem is to do with the enteric nervous system, which is the primary nervous system that controls the gut. This part of the body is extremely well developed and directly connected to the brain, meaning that when you think of something it can have a direct affect on what happens within your gut.

This can be felt whenever we receive bad news or if you begin to have nervous thoughts. Stomach churning and butterflies are common responses to such stimuli and the feeling that you get is very real as your gut reacts to the fearful thoughts that your brain is engaging in.

Another little known fact is that the gut is actually a creature of habit. Your system actually flourishes when everything remains predictable, but the slightest change – such as travelling across time zones – can have an adverse affect on how your gut operates. Things such as the early start to catch a flight and the lack of access to what the individual would consider their normal food routine will all have an impact on how your gut reacts. Hydration, or lack of, can also be a huge factor when it comes to constipation, and many of us neglect the bodies cries for refreshment when sitting on a long-haul flight.

Is There Anything I Can Do To Prevent It?

As we have already touched upon, routine is important for a healthy gut so if you can match your travel schedule with your normal routine as best you can you will find that the likelihood of becoming constipated will lessen. Equally, maintaining the habit of visiting the lavatory whenever you normally do – regardless of whether you want to or not –  will send the right signals to both the brain and the gut.

Another way to help matters is to actually listen to your body. If you are out and about and the urge comes over you to visit the toilet, do so. You may be in a less than appealing environment to use the bathroom, but ignoring the call when it comes will only make your constipation worse. This is because you are actually training your gut to hold on rather than pass when it wants to. Treat your gut like the most sensitive person you know. Don’t hurt its feelings and listen to what it has to say – even if it starts speaking at an inopportune moment.

Lastly, it is absolutely vital that you monitor your water intake. Dehydration can affect your bowel movements whether you are at home or abroad, so make sure that you are getting more than enough fluid throughout the day. A good rule of thumb when travelling is to increase your water intake by one litre per day whenever you are out of the country – this may sound a lot, but it is just two large glasses.

Severe constipation can be painful and could even lead to complications should it go on for a lengthy period of time. Be sure to book your travel insurance before you leave home.