Recent Survey Reveals that Many IBS Sufferers Avoid and Cancel Travel Plans

For Immediate Release

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MILWAUKEE, WI (May 25, 2004) - Travel can be very difficult for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers, who fear they may not be able to control their symptoms when away from home. In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) revealed that 23 percent of respondents suffering from symptoms suggesting IBS cancelled a vacation and 58 percent avoided travel at least once during the previous year.

"For people affected by IBS, the prospect of traveling can be so troublesome that many don't even consider vacationing," said Nancy Norton, IFFGD president and founder. "But by following travel tips designed to help avoid and manage symptoms, those with IBS can feel more in control when traveling."

IFFGD's travel tips include:

  • Allow enough time in the morning to get to the airport on time without worry. When traveling to and from your destination, bring an extra bag with a change of clothes in the event that your luggage is lost. Throughout your trip, always have a change of clothes with you, and bring a supply of tissue in case there's none available where you are going.
  • Traveling by plane can be difficult for those who suffer from IBS. Always ask to sit as close to the restroom as possible. Also, sit on an aisle for easy and fast access so you will not have to ask others to move. If you are traveling to Washington, D.C., for security reasons, know that you cannot get out of your seat for the last 30 minutes of the flight.
  • When planning your trip, consider driving if possible. Some people may feel more comfortable traveling by car, because they can stop when necessary to use a restroom or take a break. There is a greater sense of control when traveling by car, as you don't have to be on someone else's schedule or timetable.
  • If you are making a long drive to get to and from your destination, know how much distance there is between rest areas or highway exits with available restrooms. Map your walking and driving routes ahead of time and determine how to get from point A to point B as quickly and directly as possible. Some people may avoid buses, boats and other transportation that do not have accessible restrooms.
  • Avoid lodging where multiple rooms share a single restroom. If you know you will be arriving before check-in time, ask for early check in. If you need to check out later, don't hesitate to ask-most hotels will accommodate your needs.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that you know can aggravate your IBS symptoms, and avoid excessive caffeine and liquor, which can exacerbate symptoms. This is not the time to experiment. Eating in restaurants may be challenging-stick with foods with which you are comfortable.
  • Know how to ask where the restroom is in the local language, and always have change for pay toilets. Public restrooms are usually available and accessible in the United States, but may not be in other countries.
  • Know what documentation may be necessary to refill prescriptions at your destination.
  • Divide your medication(s) into two containers; keep one in your hotel room and one with you at all times.
  • Bring your physician's contact information with you. If you are traveling internationally, consider bringing an international cell phone or purchasing an international calling card so that you can reach your physician if necessary.

About IBS

IBS is characterized by symptoms of abdominal pain or discomfort and a change in bowel pattern that occur during at least 12 weeks out of a 12-month period. Symptoms can occur over a single long period or in several shorter bouts. With IBS, abdominal pain or discomfort is accompanied by at least two additional symptoms: It may be relieved by defecation, and/or the pain or discomfort is accompanied by a change in stool frequency, and/or a change in consistency -- chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation or both in alternation. Symptoms also may include bloating; an urgent need to defecate; bowels that still feel full after defecation; and the appearance of mucus in the stool.



IFFGD is a non-profit education and research organization that addresses issues surrounding life with functional GI and motility disorders. IFFGD helps improve care by enhancing awareness, educating and promoting research into treatments and cures for GI disorders. IFFGD was formed in 1991 by foundation president and founder, Nancy Norton.

For more information about IBS, visit For general information about functional GI and motility disorders, including bowel incontinence and GERD, as well as IBS, visit the IFFGD Web site at or call IFFGD toll-free at 1-888-964-2001.