Can Bali Belly Cause Constipation

Welcome to our article on the connection between Bali Belly and constipation! If you've ever experienced the notorious Bali Belly, you know how uncomfortable and unpredictable it can be. However, did you know that this common travel ailment can sometimes lead to constipation? Bali Belly, also known as traveler's diarrhea, is often caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water while visiting tropical destinations like Bali. Symptoms typically include stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, in some cases, Bali Belly can disrupt your digestive system in a different way—by causing constipation.

Peter Veenstra

9/21/20234 min read

What is Bali Belly?

Bali Belly refers to a gastrointestinal illness that affects travelers, particularly those visiting tropical destinations like Bali. It is typically caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or viruses. The most common culprits are Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, and Campylobacter.

Symptoms of Bali Belly

The symptoms of Bali Belly can vary from mild to severe, and they usually appear within a few days of exposure to the contaminated source. Common symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The diarrhea associated with Bali Belly is often watery and frequent, leading to dehydration if not managed properly.

Causes of Constipation in Bali Belly

While diarrhea is the primary symptom associated with Bali Belly, it is important to note that constipation can also occur in some cases. The connection between Bali Belly and constipation lies in the disruption of the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. When the harmful bacteria or parasites responsible for Bali Belly overgrow, they can interfere with the normal functioning of the digestive system, leading to constipation.

How Does Bali Belly Cause Constipation?

Bali Belly can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to an imbalance in the gut flora. This disruption can affect the motility of the intestines, causing them to slow down. As a result, the passage of stool through the intestines becomes slower, leading to constipation.

Additionally, the inflammation caused by Bali Belly can also contribute to constipation. Inflammation in the digestive system can affect the muscles responsible for moving stool through the intestines, leading to a delay in bowel movements.

Tips to Relieve Constipation Caused by Bali Belly

If you're experiencing constipation as a result of Bali Belly, there are several steps you can take to find relief:

  1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help soften the stool and ease bowel movements.

  2. Increase fiber intake: Include fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and promotes regular bowel movements.

  3. Exercise regularly: Physical activity can stimulate the muscles in the digestive system, helping to alleviate constipation.

  4. Take probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of gut flora. They can be taken in supplement form or found in certain foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables.

  5. Use natural laxatives: Natural laxatives like prunes, flaxseeds, and psyllium husk can help soften the stool and promote bowel movements.

  6. Avoid constipating foods: Certain foods can exacerbate constipation. Limit your intake of processed foods, dairy products, and foods high in fat or low in fiber.

Prevention and Treatment of Bali Belly

Preventing Bali Belly is crucial to avoid the discomfort and potential complications it can cause. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  1. Drink safe water: Stick to bottled water or use water purification methods like boiling or using water purification tablets.

  2. Eat cooked food: Opt for well-cooked and hot food to minimize the risk of consuming contaminated ingredients.

  3. Wash hands frequently: Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water regularly, especially before eating.

  4. Avoid raw or undercooked food: Raw or undercooked food, including meat, seafood, and eggs, can harbor bacteria or parasites.

If you do develop Bali Belly, treatment options may include:

  • Resting and staying hydrated

  • Over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms like diarrhea or nausea

  • Antibiotics in severe cases or when bacterial infection is confirmed

When to Seek Medical Help for Constipation Caused by Bali Belly

While constipation caused by Bali Belly is usually a temporary condition, there are instances when medical attention may be necessary. If you experience severe abdominal pain, blood in the stool, or if the constipation persists for an extended period, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Constipation While Traveling

To prevent constipation while traveling, it's important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Here are some tips:

  1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and promote regular bowel movements.

  2. Eat a balanced diet: Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your meals to ensure an adequate intake of fiber and nutrients.

  3. Exercise regularly: Engage in physical activity, such as walking or stretching, to stimulate bowel movements and aid digestion.

  4. Manage stress: Traveling can sometimes be stressful, which can affect your digestive system. Practice stress-reducing techniques like deep breathing or meditation.

  5. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can contribute to dehydration and disrupt bowel movements, so it's best to consume them in moderation.

Other Common Digestive Issues While Traveling

Constipation is just one of the many digestive issues that travelers may encounter. Other common problems include:

  • Traveler's diarrhea: This is the most well-known symptom of Bali Belly, characterized by loose and watery stools.

  • Food poisoning: Consuming contaminated food can lead to food poisoning, which can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

  • Acid reflux: Changes in diet and eating patterns while traveling can trigger acid reflux, causing heartburn and discomfort.

  • Bloating and gas: Changes in diet, eating habits, and even stress can contribute to bloating and excessive gas while traveling.


While Bali Belly is typically associated with diarrhea, it can also lead to constipation in some cases. By understanding the connection between Bali Belly and constipation, you can take steps to manage both conditions effectively. Remember to stay hydrated, consume a fiber-rich diet, exercise regularly, and seek medical help if necessary. By implementing these strategies, you can minimize the discomfort and inconvenience associated with constipation caused by Bali Belly and enjoy your travels to the fullest.