Stomach trouble?

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.

Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:37 pm

Sorry if this topic grosses you out. Hopefully some of you find discussing poop as enjoyable as I do.

Has anyone experienced major tummy trouble on the playa? My concern is diarrhea...I've never camped in an arid environment before, but when I've camped in forests, I seem to always be hit with a bad case of the Chocolate Shakes. I don't know if it's the excitement, the food, or what, but I know my body well enough to predict spending a whole lot of time staring at porta potty walls.

Can you give me some tips to combat this? I'll be bringing my economy-sized box of generic Immodium and dragging my saline IV behind me, but if you have a method that works particularly well for you, please share.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby some seeing eye » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:58 pm

Usu diarrhea is a food borne infection. Most people have a bowel slowing reaction going up to the 4000 foot altitude of BM, and loose appetite. You might try to trace the root cause of your experiences. Even Cyprofloxen takes time to work. But it is entirely easy to eat in your camp only prepackaged food and refrain from eating and drinking at other (great) camps.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Bob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:10 pm

Wash your hands frequently, don't share anything (including your bike seat), blablabla.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby some seeing eye » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:13 pm

Mr Bob nails it. Carry some alcohol-based disinfectant gel in your day pack. BM has it at the portopoopies, but it is often out.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:32 pm

You'll be so dehydrated you'll be lucky if you can get one good squirt. ;P
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Savannah » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:40 pm

I bring Pepcid and strong ginger candy chews made by "The Ginger People". And ginger snaps. :) I've got medicines, too, though luckily I've never had an issue. If you were to get sick and want a professional, you can be seen at Center Camp medical, or the medical outposts at the 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock plazas--don't be shy.

If it's possible that you might be sensitive to some sort of food you bring camping but don't eat a lot in the real world, that might be worth ferreting out. For example, I don't usually touch beef jerky, devilled chicken, & other very specific foods except for at the Burn. If I got sick every time I went camping I might not notice that it was MREs or some other camping food right away; I might think it was change of scene (even though that might totally be the case for you).

Careful where you get your week's water from (some reliable commercial source you like) and avoid the hot springs; sometimes people get sick from bacteria in certain springs.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Irreverent Moniker » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:07 pm

I have stomach issues out there, last year I lived on Imodium and Rolaids. I didn't even eat any food that wasn't pre-packaged and shelf-stable. I swear my stomach looks around at what's happening to everyone else and then does the opposite.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:10 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:You'll be so dehydrated you'll be lucky if you can get one good squirt. ;P


:D
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:11 pm

Irreverent Moniker wrote:I swear my stomach looks around at what's happening to everyone else and then does the opposite.


I think we were given faulty models, because mine does this too. Without fail. Camping, road trips, finals...
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:28 pm

Savannah wrote:I bring Pepcid and strong ginger candy chews made by "The Ginger People". And ginger snaps. :) I've got medicines, too, though luckily I've never had an issue. If you were to get sick and want a professional, you can be seen at Center Camp medical, or the medical outposts at the 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock plazas--don't be shy.

If it's possible that you might be sensitive to some sort of food you bring camping but don't eat a lot in the real world, that might be worth ferreting out. For example, I don't usually touch beef jerky, devilled chicken, & other very specific foods except for at the Burn. If I got sick every time I went camping I might not notice that it was MREs or some other camping food right away; I might think it was change of scene (even though that might totally be the case for you).

Careful where you get your week's water from (some reliable commercial source you like) and avoid the hot springs; sometimes people get sick from bacteria in certain springs.


You make a good point about the food, Savannah. Should I practice steeling my stomach for beef jerky and Tasty Bites weeks beforehand? :p

We'll probably purchase water in Reno or somewhere closer than where we're coming from (Minneapolis).

Ginger candy is a good idea, I'll pick some up.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby BBadger » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:10 pm

Last year, after holding my shit for a day and a half or more, I finally hunkered down and let fly on the throne (or into it, not ON it). It wasn't diarrhea, but it was a lot sloppier than my usual fare because of some indigestion. The constant vibrations caused by the drive to the playa doesn't help either. Near the end of the festival my bowels assumed normal function and all was good. I think some of it had to do with me being more hydrated than I normally am because I was constantly drinking water while out there.

It sounds like you just have have some irritated stomach problems, not necessarily food poisoning-type diarrhea which would be caused by unwashed hands, etc. which would be much more severe and affect you in other ways. The former can probably be solved by just changing your habits while on a trip.

Stuff to avoid:

- Fructose. Excess fructose (which is most of it) gets dumped into the bowels where it serves as food for the microorganisms in your gut. This means you should drink plain water instead of Gatorade/sports drinks if you're thirsty. It's common on trips to have too much candy and sweets, which contain substantial amounts of fructose (it's hard to avoid in America).

- Unrefrigerated vegetables. Not all of them, but vegetables like cucumbers go bad very quickly if not refrigerated, especially after being cut. Eat your vegis while they're fresh, and don't slice them up until the last moment.

- Alcohol. Yeah, right, we're not going to cut that out. But don't have too much on an empty stomach.

- Certain kinds of mushrooms. You know the kind. They're effectively food poisoning, so don't go overboard on them.

- Gum containing sugar substitutes (which is practically all of them). They draw water into the bowels. Have some in moderation, and I'd suggest getting gum with xylotol so at least you'll be helping your teeth against cavities.

- Cold drinks. Not cool drinks, cold drinks. They irritate the stomach.

- Holding your shit for a day and a half. Uh yeah, like me. Then again, it might help it solidify. Let it go, and purge the enemy from your bowels.

(Possible) solutions:

- Ginger, as mentioned above, settles the stomach, and can fight diarrhea. For a more palatable snack, get a jar of sushi ginger at oriental stores to munch on while you're doing stuff. There is also red ginger you can get at oriental stores which I like as a snack, and candies that have ginger in them like GinGins, Ginger Altoids, etc.

- Eat food. I know I certainly didn't feel like eating much food during the day, but you need solid food in you as best you can. Also eat food that is solid and somewhat normal, not just junk food/snacks/quick meals. I thought Spam was pretty good on the playa, and being salted and meaty, it stuck with me and I wasn't afraid of it going bad (provided we opened a can anew). It's almost like bacon in a can when fried up. Try it on some cucumbers. Potatoes are good too, don't spoil, and can be cooked up into virtually anything. Get a bag of bagels for some bread, so you don't need to slice bread, and can have something a bit more hardier to eat. Also, the amount of inherit sodium in most foods you'll be eating will mean you don't need to drink sports drinks to keep up your electrolytes.

- Tea, possibly with honey. Help yourself to some anti-oxidants while you're in the desert. It's also very easy to prepare, keeps you hydrated (even those with caffeine), and you can even get some ginger tea if you're digging the flavor.

- Manuka Honey? Supposedly has anti-microbacterial properties. Might help, but I'm not sure. Lots of snake-oil sites on the web touting its properties.

- A better seat for your car? The vibrations from the vehicle have effects on the bowels. You can also get it from running, dancing, or other bowel-jarring activities, but those usually don't last quite as long.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:19 pm

Thank you, Badger. That is insanely helpful.

Love me some Spam.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby essjay » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:17 pm

Take fiber supplements, like metamucil - it will help thicken your movements. Make sure you drink lots of water (goes without saying on the playa).
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Playa+Tom » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:27 pm

If you do come down with the dire rear be sure to stay hydrated, you will be sweating a lot of fluid out and eliminating it in other ways too,
Bring a small radio, a small battery fan and a good book so you will have something to do in the portos.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:17 pm

Seriously, ginger. :)
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby some seeing eye » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:26 pm

Keep in mind you need rehydration salts on the playa, not just water. You loose those salts sweating. And you need them even more if you have diarrhea or are vomiting because you are loosing out either end potassium, sodium and chlorine which the body literally runs on. Electrolyte loss from diarrhea in children is one of the most common causes of death in developing countries. Treatment for electrolyte loss and dehydration is also one of on playa medical's most common services, either through drinking gatorade or an IV. Nice peeps, don't hesitate to consult them is you get into trouble.

Table salt and salt in prepared food omits potassium. "Lite Salt" does have potassium. But if you go to a safety supply store you can get electrolyte tablets without all the sugar in gatorade. There may be sugar free sports drinks as well, and some come as a powder you can mix yourself.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby BBadger » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:09 am

If you fear really bad electrolyte imbalances, buy some Pedialyte as it is far more effective than Gatorade. A bottle of standard Gatorade has--if you drink the entire bottle--a mere 65mg of potassium in it--2% of your daily recommended value. It also has sodium--something you won't be lacking with any of the food you eat--and about 10% of the carbs you need (full bottle). The carbs, which come in the form of sucrose (which breaks down into glucose and fructose), can compound your diarrhea, by sucking liquids into your bowel. Pedialyte actually uses some synthetic sugars to prevent that.

Remember that Gatorade is meant for athletes who are working so hard that they need the direct energy of sugars for their muscles, and some small amount of electrolytes to replenish sweat and prevent cramping. The drink is really not that good for replenishing minerals for something like diarrhea. People suggest it because it is better than nothing, but if you're prepared, you can find much more effective methods to replenish lost minerals. For example, you can get 13% of your potassium--over 6x the amount in a Gatorade bottle--by drinking 8oz of orange juice. Bananas have TONS of potassium. Blackstrap molasses is an unbelievable source of potassium. Other foods have substantial amounts of potassium too. Just don't overdo it. Having too much is equally as bad as having too little. And again, you don't need any sodium "replenishment" as everything you'll eat will have tons of it. The real "replenishment" that Gatorade provides is water, and you can drink that directly.

And no, I'm not some health food nut. I was drinking those Gatorades/Vitamin waters quite a bit last year, eating Spam, ramen noodles, bagels, beer, whatever with some vegis and a "regular meal" once a day mixed in. You just don't want to treat your diarrhea with foods and drinks that aren't made to help it, and may compound it.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:47 am

some seeing eye wrote:Keep in mind you need rehydration salts on the playa, not just water. You loose those salts sweating. And you need them even more if you have diarrhea or are vomiting because you are loosing out either end potassium, sodium and chlorine which the body literally runs on. Electrolyte loss from diarrhea in children is one of the most common causes of death in developing countries. Treatment for electrolyte loss and dehydration is also one of on playa medical's most common services, either through drinking gatorade or an IV. Nice peeps, don't hesitate to consult them is you get into trouble.

Table salt and salt in prepared food omits potassium. "Lite Salt" does have potassium. But if you go to a safety supply store you can get electrolyte tablets without all the sugar in gatorade. There may be sugar free sports drinks as well, and some come as a powder you can mix yourself.


I'm planning on spiking some of my daily water with electrolyte replacement ;) That and all the bacon I'm being tempted with should do it.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:50 am

BBadger wrote:If you fear really bad electrolyte imbalances, buy some Pedialyte as it is far more effective than Gatorade. A bottle of standard Gatorade has--if you drink the entire bottle--a mere 65mg of potassium in it--2% of your daily recommended value. It also has sodium--something you won't be lacking with any of the food you eat--and about 10% of the carbs you need (full bottle). The carbs, which come in the form of sucrose (which breaks down into glucose and fructose), can compound your diarrhea, by sucking liquids into your bowel. Pedialyte actually uses some synthetic sugars to prevent that.

Remember that Gatorade is meant for athletes who are working so hard that they need the direct energy of sugars for their muscles, and some small amount of electrolytes to replenish sweat and prevent cramping. The drink is really not that good for replenishing minerals for something like diarrhea. People suggest it because it is better than nothing, but if you're prepared, you can find much more effective methods to replenish lost minerals. For example, you can get 13% of your potassium--over 6x the amount in a Gatorade bottle--by drinking 8oz of orange juice. Bananas have TONS of potassium. Blackstrap molasses is an unbelievable source of potassium. Other foods have substantial amounts of potassium too. Just don't overdo it. Having too much is equally as bad as having too little. And again, you don't need any sodium "replenishment" as everything you'll eat will have tons of it. The real "replenishment" that Gatorade provides is water, and you can drink that directly.

And no, I'm not some health food nut. I was drinking those Gatorades/Vitamin waters quite a bit last year, eating Spam, ramen noodles, bagels, beer, whatever with some vegis and a "regular meal" once a day mixed in. You just don't want to treat your diarrhea with foods and drinks that aren't made to help it, and may compound it.


I hate Gatorade, so there's no fear there. The red flavors give me intense physical pain, to boot.

I'll be picking up a brand of electrolyte powder someone recommended in a different thread (I can't remember the brand name off the top of my head).

Thank you for your concern about my diarrhea! But seriously, this is all great info. Single serving sizes of grapefruit and orange juices probably taste amazing in the heat. Do you think banana chips would do the trick, or does the drying process eliminate too much potassium (or any? or all?). I wouldn't think bananas would be too happy in a desert environment.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby illy dilly » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:09 am

Pediallyte is great for hang overs. There is a reason you give it to little kids with the squirts or the flue or what ever.
I find that, for me, cheese helps me stay firm. Also, yogurts are great for keeping your stomach in balance. I mean they even make "activia" and all those yogurts just for keeping you regular. Though, if you're lactose intolerant this is clearly a stupid idea. If you don't eat much yogurt at home, in the desert would not be a good place to start. But alas, yogurt must be refrigerated. If keeping food cold is going to be an issue this clearly wont work. Though, I don't think prepackaged yogurts need to be kept really cold, just cool.

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We all had a bad case of the runs. We killed a bottle of Pepto in a couple of days. Not bad enough food poisoning that we were puking, just bad enough that we were spending too much time in the porto's. I believe proper dish washing and bacteria control plays a major roll.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby AntiM » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:14 am

Our newbs wiped the dishes with Clorox wipes and didn't rinse them. Ugh.

We now have our own plates and bowls with our name son them.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:16 am

AntiM wrote:Our newbs wiped the dishes with Clorox wipes and didn't rinse them. Ugh.

We now have our own plates and bowls with our name son them.


Oh, gross :/ Hope they enjoyed their bleachy food.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby AntiM » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:20 am

NellieX wrote:
AntiM wrote:Our newbs wiped the dishes with Clorox wipes and didn't rinse them. Ugh.

We now have our own plates and bowls with our name son them.


Oh, gross :/ Hope they enjoyed their bleachy food.


Nope, MyLarry ended up in the med tent. Le sigh.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Bounce530 » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:21 am

My opinion of why some people have stomach problems out there is becuase it's such an extreme change to the system of what your body is used to. Heat, elevation, change in diet, and for a lot of people much more booze comsumption. So that throws your system all out of whack. Kind of like how people will blame "the water" when visiting Mexico, when most of the time its becuase thier body isn't used to the abuse of non-stop partying, and change in diet.
I do however, take a shot of pepto almost every morning just to head off the "beer shits" Prob don't need it, but you know what they say about an oz of prevention.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:34 am

AntiM wrote:
NellieX wrote:
AntiM wrote:Our newbs wiped the dishes with Clorox wipes and didn't rinse them. Ugh.

We now have our own plates and bowls with our name son them.


Oh, gross :/ Hope they enjoyed their bleachy food.


Nope, MyLarry ended up in the med tent. Le sigh.



Laaame. It's one thing to not take care of yourself, but when you're responsible for other people's well-being, you better fucking pay attention. Sorry that happened to you guys.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:36 am

Bounce530 wrote:My opinion of why some people have stomach problems out there is becuase it's such an extreme change to the system of what your body is used to. Heat, elevation, change in diet, and for a lot of people much more booze comsumption. So that throws your system all out of whack. Kind of like how people will blame "the water" when visiting Mexico, when most of the time its becuase thier body isn't used to the abuse of non-stop partying, and change in diet.
I do however, take a shot of pepto almost every morning just to head off the "beer shits" Prob don't need it, but you know what they say about an oz of prevention.


Oh I'm sure it's a combination. My triggers seem to be camping and road trips. The mix of excitement, car-food (calorie-dense, sodium-packed), and yes, booze, probably all play a role in making me miserable for a day or two.

Pepto shooters...ick. Will it still work if I add vodka?
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby AntiM » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:37 am

Years ago, and neither has been able to return to the playa since. One doesn't care to, one wants to, but you don't see me making it happen, do you?
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby Savannah » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:37 am

I'll be picking up a brand of electrolyte powder someone recommended in a different thread (I can't remember the brand name off the top of my head).


Vitalyte gets mentioned a lot here. I'm intrigued also by Cytomax, which is a bicyclist sport energy drink with electrolytes. I stumbled across it on a biking site while looking for stories about heat exhaustion (as one does).
http://www.cyclingsite.com/collected_wi ... olytes.htm

The reviews at Amazon are very positive, though it appears that the flavors are of varying success . . . if you can get a sample first, do!

I like Pedialyte (apple flavor) and varying juices and snacks.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby AntiM » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:41 am

Ugly Dougly wrote:Seriously, ginger. :)


It helps arthritic joints, too. I take some daily for that.
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Re: Stomach trouble?

Postby NellieX » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:46 am

AntiM wrote:Years ago, and neither has been able to return to the playa since. One doesn't care to, one wants to, but you don't see me making it happen, do you?


GOOD! If they keep bugging you about it, tell them they need to perform 200 hours of dish-washing community service....naked. In the middle of a wind-storm. :twisted:
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