Ask the Doctor: When I travel, I only pass painful hard stool

Monday June 24 2019


By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

When I travel, I only pass painful hard stool once a week. What is the cause and how can I treat it? Musa

Dear Musa,
Passing hard stool once a week and suffering pain while doing it points to constipation. It is unfortunate that pain while passing stool may cause fear to pass stool and if one is constipated, this might make constipation pain worse.
Travelling can be stressful, stress being one of the causes of constipation. Also, one’s eating habits during travel change with many people limiting the number of times and amounts of food they eat and only take dry snacks with little amounts of fluids, leading to constipation.

A number of people, especially women, feel uneasy using bathrooms outside of their homes, and if one is travelling by plane, sitting near the window makes one fear to disturb other passengers. The body many times follows a special routine to release excreta and travel across many time zones may disrupt this, leading to constipation.
Therefore, sit at the edge of the isle (if travelling by plane) so that you can easily go to the toilet. Also, you need to take lots of fluids apart from eating foods with lots of fibre (fruits and vegetables) while avoiding too much bread or wheat products.