Specialist expertise: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Nutrition.
Unfortunately, constipation and diarrhoea are both commonplace while travelling. As many as 50% of travellers experience some sort of gut issues when abroad. This can be because of many different factors, from changes in your circadian rhythm, to pre-holiday stress of packing and changes in what you eat and when.
If you do end up with a tummy bug, it’s generally advised to avoid anti-diarrhoeal medication at the start as it may prolong the infection, trapping the culprit in your intestine. Instead, try to:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals — this helps by putting less strain on your inflamed gut
- Drink plenty of fluids but limit food and drink that may stimulate the colon, such as chilli, high-fat meals, coffee and alcohol
- Limit your intake of FODMAPs (see above)
- If the diarrhoea is severe — when fluid is passing ‘straight through’ — use an electrolyte solution (such as Dioralyte), to stay hydrated and maintain levels of important body salts, which help maximise fluid absorption from your gut
- Consider psyllium husk (again!) — it not only softens stools but also thickens your stool output
Travellers’ diarrhoea is usually short-term, resolving within three to five days, and most cases are mild so don’t need medical treatment — but if you’re concerned do head to a pharmacy.