I feel like the title of this post is somewhat of an oxymoron; generally speaking, germaphobes don’t travel – they stay close to their
bubbles homes and encapsulate themselves in a clean, sanitary surrounding. Ah, disinfected bliss.
I, on the other hand, travel frequently, and I *may* have a few germaphobe tendencies.
I’m the kind of gal who has three travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer tucked into her carry-on bags. Safely nestled in my checked luggage is a full-sized can of disinfectant spray, which I use on every “suspicious” surface of the hotel room – bathroom fixtures, light fixtures and of course the remote control. I wear long sleeves and pants on flights to discourage transfer of viruses via contact, and if I can help it, I never ever ever ever ever use public bathrooms. Especially not plane bathrooms. Ew.
I know I’m not alone. And that’s why it’s no surprise that travel is a common cause of constipation for people. In addition to germaphobe tendencies, the following may explain this condition:
– Changes in food and drink consumption
– Interruption of sleep patterns
– Air in airplanes tends to be dry and access to fluids is not always easy
– Tendency not to move around during long plane, train or car trips
– Tendency to avoid public washrooms and toilets in strange hotels
– Being in the presence of others which may affect your normal time for having a bowel movement
– New food or exposure to microbes may alter the normal flora of the gut and cause upset or gastroenteritis, resulting in diarrhea, followed by constipation due to dehydration
I’ll be honest, I tend to be irregular when I travel. It’s mostly a self-imposed punishment due to my fear of public bathrooms, but once a routine is thrown off (which can happen when you ignore just one urge to go), it’s hard to get back on track. So, if you’re like me, how can you prevent travel-related constipation?
– Eat a high-fibre diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole-grain cereals and breads, aiming to consume 20 to 30 grams of fibre daily
– Limit low-fibre foods, such as dairy and processed foods, and foods that are high in fat and sugar
– Drink plenty of liquids along with the fibre and limit caffeine intake
– Exercise regularly to help stimulate intestinal function, aiming for 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day (if you can’t squeeze in some time at the hotel gym, double-up on your sightseeing!)
– Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement
If you do happen to experience travel-related constipation, and when dietary and lifestyle changes do not relieve symptoms, you can try gentler non-stimulative laxatives first and consider using stimulant laxatives sparingly, in the short-term, only if non-stimulant laxatives fail to provide relief.
I know, it’s easier said than done, but even travelling germaphobes need to own the throne! And honestly, there’s no point in shying away from this conversation: one in four Canadians has symptoms of constipation. In a survey of the Canadian population, 27.2% of people reported constipation within the previous three months, and 38% within the previous 12 months.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be Googling ways to get rid of my phobia of public bathrooms. I can’t say I’ll be cured in time for my next trip, but I’m trying, I promise! Visit www.dulcolax.ca for more information about bowel health and treatment options.