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Traveling With Irritable Bowel Syndrome


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Street Food Connoisseur
Posts: 638
Joined: July 16th, 2006
Location: Los Angeles, CA

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Tags: argentina, irritablebowel
  • Added on: June 7th, 2011
Although she gamely agreed to travel with me to Argentina this November, my girlfriend is still afraid of being seized up with irritable bowel syndrome. Knowing what I know about Argentinian food, I don't think the food itself is the problem; but there is always the issue of stress-induced illness, especially in unfamiliar surroundings.

Do any of you have any ideas, either as a result of having IBS yourself or traveling with a companion that suffers from it? This is a good woman, and, I think, brave for venturing out of her comfort zone. I, on the other hand, have the digestion of a billy goat.


Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 2
Joined: June 29th, 2008

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  • Added on: June 7th, 2011
I've been travelling for nearly 10 years, and at least 6 of those years I've had IBS. It's a pain, and it does mean you have to be more careful about what you eat.
The tricky thing about it is that Western medicine doesn't yet know what IBS is- it's a 'syndrome' because various symptoms which can be lumped together but the problem can be anywhere in your digestive system from your stomach to your intestines, or even the layer of muscles directly over your guts. This means people will handle it very differently, and may have different symptoms. Having said that, some things apply generally for everyone and can be followed by even people like you with great guts!
For eg: go to the Travel Doctor before you go and know about the risk of belly issues in the region. Take some preventatives with you. Follow the guidelines "boil it, wash it, peel it or forget about it" stringently and be more careful about the water you drink ( i like the steripen cos you can drink what people give you, but it's not for everyone). I hate to waste food but if the meal seems dodgy, don't risk it cos it's not worth it! Hungry is better than sick!
I take Probiotics (they're fabulous for IBS sufferers) and there are some that don't need to be refrigerated so you can take them travelling. I occasionally drink a few spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar before a meal (keeps your stomach acid super acidic and helps to kill of stuff that might otherwise get through the permeable gut wall of an IBS sufferer), and take alcohol hand wash so you have less exposure to new bugs. I drink warm/hot water instead of cold as it helps to relax my gut when it's feeling stressed. And practice meditation!
Because IBS worsens with stress, take a good attitude- if you paid for the whole bus journey but have to get off to find a toilet, just lose the money graciously cos it's much better than stressing out your gut and feeling like crap for the rest of the day! And finally- go to the Travel Doctor when you get back- even if you feel fine, cos there are some things that can hang about in your guts and slowly make IBS worse. And some of them you can even unknowingly give to your friends at home! So get tested for everything. Travelling with IBS is slightly more tricky, but the world is an amazing place and certainly not worth missing out on cos of a bad belly! Good travels!

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