Why does travelling makes you constipated ?

Whether you are a regular traveller or not, this would be helpful. If you have experienced this situation, you may be knowing how troublesome the situation. It may even ruin your joyful activities. And if you are a person who gets travellers constipation frequently, you may be wondering why this is happening to you. As you may see other’s are enjoying their travel period, but you don’t. Sometimes this thing may limits your happy life.

Travelling perse doesn’t makes you constipated. And there are no scientific data about connections between travelling and gut functions. But it all depends on several other factors. That’s why this experience differ from person to person. Researchers have identified several related factors that can associated with constipation while travelling. This factors may influence from individual person with certain degrees. Those are psychological factors like mood and anxiety, disruption of circadian rhythm of a person, changes in dietary pattern, dehydration or less fluid intake and alcohol, caffeine and cigarette consumption.

Why you get travellers constipation?

As you read above, these factors contribute to constipation in travelling.

Psychological factors

You may be wondered about how much mood and anxiety can affect your gut motility. Our body functions all co related with our mind. It’s hard to perform our body physiological mechanisms without good mind control. Researches performed to identify the relationship between psychological factors and constipation show that once a person get anxious or not in the correct mood he or she can not excrete well.

An Iranian research team did a specific research about people with psychological problems and it’s relation to their gut motility. Most of these people have some bad experience about public washrooms. Some get bullied in a public washroom and some get had even worse experiences.

And some people have obsessive thoughts about public washrooms or washrooms out side their own homes. Thereby their anxiety levels go sky rocket when they enters into a such place. All these issues are not structural cases. It all depends with functional impairment associated with person’s mind set.

Once person’s anxiety increases it has shown that it leads to muscle contraction. The same thing happens with smooth muscle structure in the rectum. Therefore rectum doesn’t get relaxed. So it manifest as a constipated situation.

psychological issues are related with constipation while travel
some people get panic in public toilets.

Disruption of the circadian rhythm

Humans are creatures of habits. It is scientifically proven that we all functioning according to a biological clock determined by certain genes. Scientists called these genes, the clock genes. The biological functions regulated by the biological clock is defined as circadian rhythm. There is a secretary gland called pineal gland situated in the brain. It secretes Melatonin, a hormone that regulates biological clock in our body. Both these genetic component and the hormonal component are contributing to controlling our body functions.

Motilin and Gherlin are the main two hormones that secrets in gut mucosa which regulates peristalsis movements of the intestine. These two hormones are produced as a response to the melatonin hormone. And the neuronal signals produced by the nerve plexus around the gut muscle wall also responsible for this movements.

A study performed related with disrupted circadian rhythm and gut motility shows that human gut functioning increased in day time specifically in the morning. And reduced within night. This may be associated with certain other environmental factors like light and the darkness. However it shows that when a person travels, specially in-between time zones, there is a disruption of this natural rhythm of the body. So body’s neuro hormonal mechanisms get jammed. This ultimately ends up as reduced metabolism. And it affects to the gut as constipation.

Changes in dietary pattern

Our gastrointestinal functions totally depend on what we eat and even how we eat. Our gut adapts to what we eat more frequently. This happens with the changing the microbiome, the gut flora. Gut flora helps digestion and even motility of the gut. Eating a totally different food types would make it’s difficult to perform well to our gastrointestinal system.

And in several studies performed over Islamic population in Ramadan period, that they perform prolong fasting at day time. And it shows that fasting during day time makes people get constipated compared to others.

Most of the time when people travel they tend to take foods from outside. They love to mix with other cultures. That’s the beauty of the travelling, new experiences. This cause constipation for most of the time. And taking junk foods with lot of fat and deep fried foods which are lack of dietary fibers make the food less bulky. Therefore the stimulation to the rectal muscle reduces, and this present as constipation.

Not only the type of food, the eating environment also contributes to our gut motility. When you eat in a unpleasant environment there is loss of appetite and even reduced gut functioning also. When we travel we don’t get always good experiences. The unpredictability is the most fascinating part of the travel life. Therefore those stressful situations can affect the gut and manifest as constipation.


Large bowel is the place which absorb most water percentage of our foods. Once water get absorbed the leftover parts are formed as stool. When we drink less water there would not much things to absorb from large bowel. Therefore bowel force more and more to get water from foods. This results formation of rock hard stool.

Whereas when we take lots of water, there is enough water to absorb. Therefore bowel doesn’t do much effort on water absorbing. The more water retains within stools, the more soften the stool. Therefore stool passing become more easier.

When people travel they tend to take less fluids. Because they forget about that. This may be one reason to get constipation while travels.

And also when we travel there is lost of water wasting from our body as sweat. Therefore it’s very important to drink water adequately when go on a trip. It’s very much helpful to maintain good health.

Alcohol, caffeine and cigarette consumption

This factor is little bit debatable. Several studies shows results that are contrary to each other. However researchers have found that drinking alcohol can increase gut permeability and increase water absorption form the foods. And some studies say that alcohol itself has an effect to reduce gut motility, but it is not proven. Anyway alcohol is not a healthy substance for human body.

But caffeine and cigarette smoking are proven scientifically that causes reduce gut motility. Thereby promoting constipation.

Travellers are not always use alcohol, but there are circumstances like friendly gathering that alcohol come in to play. But smoking and caffeine are statistically increased amount of using shows in between travellers compared with others who don’t. Therefore it can play a role in constipation.

How to avoid travellers constipation ?

Now you may be thinking that how we can avoid this situation. But before that it’s better to know that psychological issues related to washrooms outside from your own place is a total different entity. This type of issues need to be deal with proper psychological consultations. There are methods to reduce anxiety and control mood changes. It is time consuming process, but worth to engage in such a programme if the condition is severely compromise your day to day life.

plan your trip well, to avoid travellers constipation
Avoid travellers constipation

Otherwise there are few simple steps you need to follow to avoid travellers constipation.

Plan your accommodation : It true some love sudden travels. But those occasions are some what adventurous. We don’t know what we will face in future. So if you are a person with travellers constipation it’s better to plan your journey well. Specially check where are the accommodations? How about there sanitary facilities? The water supply? Although these are very small things, this will be very important for a person with travellers constipation. Otherwise the suffer you get will overcome the fun you are having from the trip.

Take fluids as much as possible : You should never reduce your fluid intake even when you travel. Water would be the best and cheapest option. There are specially made fluids that are composed with similar ions as body fluid. But a water bottle is enough for preventing constipation. Most travellers avoid water as it will increase the frequency of urination. But it will affect badly for your gut. So before you start your journey make sure to have your water bottles with you and never forget to drink.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarette : Travelling is fun. You don’t need to take these substances while you travel. Alcohol can even ruin the experience you are expecting to have. So avoid these. Have fun with your friends, relatives and your family. Once you become happy, your body also functions it’s optimum level. You didn’t even get constipation.

Eat proper foods and avoid junk foods : Make a picture in your kind that you are going a picnic with your family. And you are having meal that you made at home in a green grassland. How fun is that? And how fresh is that thought? It’s always better to eat fresh foods.

You may be used to take foods from outside as it is easy and there are not much of effort. But make sure your meals include adequate amounts of dietary fibers, less lean meat and less fat. Otherwise your gut will suffer a lot.

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Sapumal Edirisinghe
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