Home TIPS Senior Health - How To Avoid Stomach Issues When Traveling
Senior Health - How To Avoid Stomach Issues When Traveling PDF Print E-mail

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some form of diarrhea hits nearly half of all seniors who venture far away from home. Jokesters call it Montezuma's revenge, but when it happens to you, there’s nothing funny about it. There are three basic kinds of diarrhea: viral, bacterial and, especially for traveling seniors, sudden changes in eating habits. The kind that hits most often is bacterial, and named for the ancient Mexican emperor because it comes from unclean foods, traditionally from the land south of our border.

Portable toilets


Mexico is accused, often unfairly, of having poor sanitation standards. However, traveling seniors should do their eating at higher-scale, clean restaurants in that country, and never consume food from street vendors nor drink any water other than bottled and/or boiled thoroughly before use. Use the clean water to brush your teeth, too. Of course, always wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating anywhere.

Viral diarrhea hits from close contact with others who’ve been afflicted, the same way colds and flu spread. Senior travelers can’t avoid being jammed into crowds in airplanes, trains, buses, hotel elevators, restaurants and entertainment events. The only way to avoid being exposed to this kind of affliction is to stay home and hide under your bed.

Seriously, as a wandering senior tourist, try to avoid the worst crowding scenes by finding places where tourists don’t congregate. Little out-of-the-way cafes, small clubs, taxis instead of buses, and if you don’t mind putting out the bucks, get bumped up from sardine-can aircraft seating to business or first class.

The not-often identified diarrhea is the kind we get from making sudden changes in our eating habits. For instance, a senior who’s usually very careful to eat moderate amounts of high-calorie, low-fat foods, is suddenly faced with the famed Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffets. Or that wandering senior is on a luxury cruise and can order anything and everything in the ship’s dining room three times a day, plus attend the midnight chocoholic buffet.

It is just too tempting not to dive into such inviting repasts. However, too many seniors forget that their innards are not as forgiving as they were in their early years. It may take some heroic restraint, but even if the heavy, fatty, sugary, spicy food looks very inviting, the senior who doesn’t want his innards to burst out every hour on the hour, it must be avoided.

There are few medications that can help prevent diarrhea, but maybe a swig of Pepto Bismol or similar potion every couple of hours for a day or two can help ease the queasiness. Check with your family doctor for taking some prescription medications that can help stop the symptoms or cure it completely. Don’t overeat, especially strange foods you’ve never tried before, and drink lots of purified water, boiled tea and coffee.

Although in today’s hectic travel schedules, delays, quick meals, sleep deprivation and other hassles, it is difficult to keep your stomach and bowels happy, you should take those simple steps to soothe them enough so that you can can travel without doing too much trotting to the toilet.

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