If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and are worried about upcoming travel and holiday meals worsening your IBS symptoms here are a few pointers on how to survive IBS during the holidays.
Many patients I see in the office worry about travel as it’s a break in their daily routine. For some of us our bowel habit is intimately tied to our routines in the morning. For example, some IBS patients with diarrhea wait at home till after their morning coffee or plan their walk to work such that they know where a clean toilet will be available. For others, it’s not so much about the planning as it is about the timing and context. Having that morning coffee and that rush to work helps keep them regular.
Now, factor in a holiday trip and things can get a little irregular!
If you are someone who notes constipation during travel I suggest starting over-the-counter (OTC) Miralax (17 gm) daily a few days leading up to and during travel. This might help give a little extra stimulation you need to keep things moving. Miralax is safe, even in pregnant women, and is gentle and slow acting. On the other hand, if you are in a bind (pun-intended) Dulcolax (OTC) aka Bisacodyl, packs a punch in a tiny little pill. Beware though, while it’s very effective within 6 hours, it can be uncomfortable. One other point worth mentioning is that even if you can’t go just sit down around the same time of day that you would normally and relax on the toilet with a good blog post and see if things kick in gear.
If you are someone who gets anxious during travel a key may be in the few days leading up to travel such as strictly avoiding trigger foods such as high FODMAP foods (i. e. legumes, cruciferous vegetables, wheat, dairy etc.), or avoiding alcohol and excessive caffeine a few days before. Further, a pill-in-the pocket approach can also be used such as an OTC anti-diarrheal like imodium, or a prescribed anti-spasmodic (i.e. Levsin, Bentyl) to calm down the intestine during travel to/from the airport and during flight.
What works for some doesn’t always work for everyone. However, reducing your portions and avoiding overly fried or rich (fatty) foods may help. Further, if you have been diagnosed with IBS your doctor or I have already talked to you about the Low Fodmap Diet. Turkey is a safe bet as it’s a lean meat but the dangers are really in the fixings, so be careful! Dairy-rich items and those with lots of garlic and onions tend to be big culprits. Overall, just be mindful of the choices you make during dinner and keep your alcohol and caffeine use moderate.
If you would like further information about eating habits, digestive issues, or suspect you have a gastrointestinal problem that needs further evaluation, contact Daniel Motola, MD, PhD at Gotham Medical Associates to make an appointment today. You can also book online or call 212-227-3688.
Disclaimer: This information is intended to educate but not provide treatment or diagnostic information. Self-diagnosis should not be made base on this or any other online information. Please consult with a doctor about your specific condition. Dr. Motola is available for office consultations for new patients and by phone or patient portal for existing patients.