Constipation in Gap Year Students
Have you ever traveled to a new place and experienced constipation? Over the past few years, we have had many gap year students complain about constipation – usually within the first 2 months of being in the country. We had a vegetarian student once who was eating only tofu- no vegetables, fruits, and definitely not a balanced diet. We had another student who was eating only potato chips and soda, because they were too tired to cook or even go out at the end of the long day. These students end up gaining weight and developing skin problems!
Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. The stool is often hard and dry. This can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and feeling as if one has not completely passed the bowel movement. The good news it that there are many easy ways to prevent it. There is also a condition called “Bashful Bowels”, people who have this condition are nervous about going to the bathroom in an unknown or new place. Often these people will refuse to go to thew bathroom in an unknown place to the point that they become constipated.
For many students, the year in Israel is the first time they have had to make their own food plans and cook for themselves. While back at home, their parents were cooking well rounded meals, and food was familiar and effortless for many. College-aged students often eat less healthy foods and have less well-rounded diets. Many programs have students making their own food at least part of the time, which takes a lot of forethought and effort. Programs that serve meals will often serve meals that include foods that may be unfamiliar to the students.
There are other causes of constipation, such as side effects of common medications. Many students are on various medications for medical or mental health reasons. Many of these medications, including sleeping medication and some anti-depressants, can cause constipation as a side effect. It is important that the students are aware of this and make sure that if they are constipated, they avoid any unnecessary sleeping pills and other such medications. If they need prescription medications, then students should begin a careful diet and hydration plan from the beginning of the school year.
Our intestinal activity can often be influenced by emotions. For example, if someone is stressed, they might have irregular bowel movements. By definition, irritable bowel syndrome is alternating constipation and diarrhea, heavily affected by stress. It is important for a student not to develop anxiety when they have irregular bowel movements because it could make the situation worse. undefined
Israel is a warm and dry country. This climate is often very different from climates where gap year students come from. Many students hydrate as much as they did at home. In most cases, this means that the students aren’t drinking enough water. Dehydration causes constipation!
Tips for avoiding constipation in gap year students:
If constipation does not resolve after following these guidelines, students should seek medical attention at a family physician or school clinic. If they are at a school that has EMA Care clinics, then make sure they schedule an appointment with the clinic health provider to discuss, including any medications taken.
My experience with Ema Care has been so positive that I wanted to share it in case it could help someone else. Eight days ago my daughter, a Shanah Bet student, called to say she wasn’t feeling well and had symptoms of Covid-19. I was put in touch with an Infectious Disease specialist who recommended Ema Care. I reached Dr. Eliana Aaron easily and signed my daughter up. The next morning, Ema Care gave my daughter a telehealth exam and provided her with prescriptions, as well as a list of...
I would like to also add my compliments, you exceeded my already very high expectations. You can certainly send other schools our way for a recommendation.
-Mr. E. Naiman
Dear Dr. Eliana words simply cannot express how much you have done for all of us and so many others in keeping us informed, calming anxieties, and being such a wonderful and patient resource through such a difficult time. Wishing you much bracha and hatzlacha in the merit of all the countless mitzvot u have done to help so many through these trying times; mikol halev, ein milim and thanks so so much .
Gap Year Program Staff
Hello Dr. Aaron. I cannot thank you enough for providing not only crucial information but a framework that gave us stability and allowed us to function (instead of descending into chaos, which undoubtedly would have happened, if not for you). At the risk of waxing dramatic, I will tell you that when I think of what you've done these past couple of months, what comes to mind is Rav Yohanan Ben Zakai asking Vespasian to give him Yavneh ve-Hakhameha, thus saving the entire enterprise of Talmud...
I just wanted to say I think Dr. Eliana is one of the most rationale people providing the public with current information. I have no idea how I came across your Facebook page but I love what you say, just heard the one about reopening shuls, and the way you present it. clear, concise and factual. I work in Toronto on COVID 19 and just wanted to let you know that you are doing a fantastic job. I think here there are community doctors putting out information and I have told them they are too...
I just wanted to thank you very much for that presentation. Very thorough and certainly helped create important and necessary focus. Very much appreciated.
Gap Year Program Staff
First of all, thank you for that incredibly informative call. Really got us thinking about all the issues we need to consider for next year. Thank you in general for being available to all of us on the group. We have benefited so much from your wisdom and advice over the past few weeks.
Head of Gap Year Program
I just wanted to thank you for all your guidance and advice you're are providing the yeshivot and midreshot. I'm the Director of a boys program and although I'm sure you've heard it many times already, your role has been indispensable in getting us all through this.
Head of Gap Year Program