How to Survive Bathroom Travel Emergencies
An upset stomach can ruin a travel experience. One moment you’re watching the in-flight movie, and the next you’re sprinting down the aisle to the tiny bathroom at the back of the plane and praying it’s unoccupied. Yikes! From fiery poops at a rest stop to uncontrollable diarrhea on a plane, we’ve all been there when a bathroom emergency has struck at an inopportune time. Don’t let a small disaster ruin your trip. Here’s what to do.
What Causes Traveler’s Diarrhea?
The telltale signs of traveler’s diarrhea – stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea and vomiting – are not always caused by a bad meal. A general change in diet, a change in climate, and the added stress of travel can all lead to intestinal distress. The most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea is E. coli, although other microbes can cause intestinal distress, too.
When traveling overseas, avoidance is the best tactic. Skip the ice cubes in drinks, opt for bottled water over tap water, and pass on salads or raw veggies. Practicing these precautions are not a guarantee that you’ll avoid intestinal discomfort, however. A violent case of explosive diarrhea can strike just about anywhere. Preparation is key.
Foods to Avoid Before Flying: Watch out for Grease and Bloating!
Whether you’re taking off on a long-haul international flight or just a short connector to a business meeting a few states away, don’t gamble with your diet before flying. Most airport fast food options are the embodiment of greasy, artery-clogging foods that are packed with sodium and saturated fats. They’re also the biggest culprits for causing digestion troubles up at 35,000 feet.
In general, keep in mind that sitting squished inside a tiny seat in a pressurized cabin will inhibit blood flow and increase the risk for problems like swollen feet and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Chowing down on that big mac or greasy bacon, egg and cheese sandwich will only further constrict blood flow.
Watch out for foods that promote bloating. Even healthy foods like onions, cabbage and baked beans can cause some serious bloating and gastrointestinal distress! Not only will the folks in your row give you the side eye for that potent odor you’re off-gassing, but you could be stuck feeling like an over-filled helium balloon for the duration of your flight. Whatever you do, don’t light matches at 30,000 feet to cover up the flatulence! Back in 2006, an American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing after a woman light matches to mask her flatulence and body odor.
How Should I Treat Traveler’s Diarrhea?
For most folks, treatment is as simple as amassing a huge stash of toilet paper and some butt cream like Soothe ‘n Wipe to relieve the painful burning sensations, and then waiting Motezuma’s Revenge out. If your diarrhea persists for more than 48 hours, however, a more serious issue like dysentery, cholera, giardiasis or other intestinal disorders could be the cause. Talk to a travel doctor about next steps.
And remember, the next time you’re on a flight, don’t try to light a match on an airplane to cover up any flatulence!