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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) travel insurance

Irritable bowel syndrome, often shortened to IBS, is a long-term condition that affects the stomach and bowel. IBS has no specific cause and may vary greatly in the way people experience it, but common symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation. This condition is diagnosed when someone has symptoms like these, and they cannot be attributed to any other cause.

IBS is very common; The IBS Network notes that approximately 10-20% of people living in the UK have it. Although not a serious or life-threatening condition, irritable bowel syndrome is often a lifelong health issue, and one that can be debilitating. Symptoms can come and go without warning, and can last for days, weeks or months at a time.

Many people with IBS find that certain foods, drinks or stress can trigger IBS episodes, or ‘flare ups’, so controlling these factors can help to minimise its effects. Having said that, the unpredictability of travel and the likelihood of encountering new foods, environments and other experiences while you are away can often result in a flare up, which is why travel insurance that covers irritable bowel syndrome is such a worthwhile measure for those who have it.

Specialist travel insurance for IBS

Although it is a widespread condition, irritable bowel syndrome may not be immediately obvious as a health issue that requires specialist travel insurance. If you suffer from IBS, it’s likely that you have a range of methods for coping with and controlling your symptoms, but you might not think of it as something that could interfere with your travel plans.

On the other hand, as IBS can be unpredictable and have a changeable impact on your health it’s vital to let your travel insurance provider know that you have it, and that you secure a policy that covers its effects. This way, should a flare up of IBS prevent you being able to depart as you’d hoped, you won’t lose the money you have already spent on your holiday, such as accommodation and flights*.

If you were to experience a flare up or a medical emergency while you are away, IBS travel insurance can ensure you receive the right care. Healthcare around the world can be very expensive, so having travel insurance in place will give you peace of mind that you will not be liable to any potential medical costs.

While some standard travel insurance providers may decline to cover a pre-existing health condition like IBS, we feel that everyone should have the freedom to travel with peace of mind. Our policies cover existing medical conditions and disabilities for people of any age, so that you can explore the world with confidence.

Our specialist IBS travel insurance includes a multitude of great coverage, for cancellation as mentioned above, for missed flights and delayed departures, for your IBS medication should it go missing or get damaged, and for repatriation cover to ensure you can get back home if your health prevents you from travelling*. You can view a full list of what our medical travel insurance includes here.

*Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and limits of the Insurance Policy.

Applying for IBS travel insurance

You can receive a quote from us for irritable bowel syndrome travel insurance in just a few simple steps. We will ask you about your IBS and how your symptoms affect you, as well as how many medicines you take to minimise them.

Our friendly and knowledgeable team are available over the phone on 02392 419 080 from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, except on Bank Holidays. Or, if you’d prefer you can receive a quote for IBS travel cover online, by using our quick and easy application system.

Tips for travelling when you have IBS

Taking the time to prepare to travel is hugely worthwhile if you have an existing health condition that has the potential to affect you without warning. When planning a trip abroad, always make your GP your first port of call; they will let you know what you can do to minimise your individual risk of IBS flare ups and can prescribe extra medication to cover your time away if need be.

Other than any prescribed medicine you need with you, make sure to take a supply of over-the-counter medications that can alleviate the IBS symptoms you tend to get, such as gentle laxatives, anti-diarrhoea medicine or anti-bloating medication, for example.

Try to leave plenty of time to travel to and from your destination, and for any activities you want to do while away, as stress can cause IBS symptoms to flare up. If you will be flying to your destination, sitting in an aisle seat near the toilet can help you feel more relaxed while in the air. You could also learn how to ask where the toilet is in the language of the country you will be visiting, or if you prefer, you can apply for an international ‘Can’t Wait’ card from The IBS Network. These credit-card-sized cards show the ‘Can’t Wait’ message in a number of different languages, to help you find and gain access to toilet facilities while out and about on holiday.

When you have IBS, thinking about how best to manage the symptoms through your diet may even influence your choice of holiday destination. Of course, it is possible to find a wide range of foods in many parts of the world, and with careful preparation and management there is no need to feel restricted. However, travelling to a country where the local cuisine is mostly spicy, for example, can make it trickier to avoid flare ups. Being able to enjoy food and drink is part of the joy of travel, so finding an area of the world where the food is less likely to cause you distress may make all the difference.

Whether you have particular foods that exacerbate your irritable bowel syndrome or not, it is important to drink plenty of water while you’re on the move and throughout your trip, since dehydration can make IBS worse. Stick to bottled water if you can, even when brushing your teeth, and try to go without ice in your drinks. While you needn’t avoid certain drinks altogether it’s a good idea to indulge in moderation, whether that is alcohol, coffee or any local delicacies you may be introduced to. When it comes to food, good general rules to follow include eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and to avoid too much fatty food.

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