Gut expert explains red flag symptom of illness 6.5million have in UK

Gut expert Gemma Stuart
-Credit: (Image: Gut Wealth)


A bowel expert has provided urgent advice for people fearing summer holidays and days out as new research shows that one in 10 of us suffer from ‘bowel urgency’. Bowel urgency or faecal urgency is the sudden need to rush to the bathroom.

It’s a common and often debilitating red flag symptom of gut health issues including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), coeliac disease and food intolerances. According to gut expert Gemma Stuart of Gut Wealth, bowel urgency is more common than people realise.

Travelling with digestive ill health poses significant challenges, often leading to anxiety and reluctance to embark on trips. “Many people are scared to enjoy the outdoors, day trips, or holidays due to the unpredictability of their bowel movements,” said Stuart. “This fear can hold people back from living their lives to the fullest, creating a cycle of stress and gut issues that perpetuates the problem.”

The unpredictability of bowel urgency means individuals must always be prepared, often leading to meticulous planning around bathroom availability. “As a nation, we’re quite reserved – you don’t often find people talking openly about their toilet habits,” Stuart said. “When you suffer from something like bowel urgency, you tend not to talk about it with others – especially if you end up having an accident from time to time. But the problem is so much more common than you think. Over 6.5 million people in the UK are affected by some form of bowel problem, and this number will only continue to grow.”

Stuart said overcoming this taboo is crucial, adding: “We’re a nation pretending that we don’t poo, but there’s an entire website dedicated to finding public toilets for an emergency poo.”

5 Tips for Managing Bowel Urgency

To help those struggling with bowel urgency, Stuart shares five practical tips:

  1. Track It:

    Start keeping a record of every time you’re overcome by the sudden urge to use the toilet. As you compile the information, you may notice common trends – such as needing to go at certain times, after specific meals, or during high-stress periods. This not only helps you plan around your bowels but can also assist a doctor in making an official diagnosis.

  2. Plan ahead:

    When planning a trip or day out, scope out restaurants and other venues for their facilities when you first enter, and use online forums dedicated to rating the best public toilets in London to help you find a restroom on the go (people are raving about the M&S toilet on Oxford Street).

  3. Apply for a Can’t Wait Card:

    A Can’t Wait Card is designed to be discreetly tucked away in a purse or wallet and can be shown to staff in shops, restaurants, and other venues so you can use their toilet without having to explain your condition.

  4. Don’t Get Caught Short:

    Unfortunately, those who suffer from bowel urgency need to be prepared for an emergency movement wherever they go. Make sure you have handy wipes if you know you’ll be using public facilities

  5. Invest in Postbiotics:

    Postbiotics are produced by healthy bacteria in your gut to help digest your food and create an environment conducive to good gut bacteria. This can be extremely beneficial in treating irritable gut symptoms such as inflammation, bloating, diarrhoea, and bowel urgency.

Travel doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety for those with digestive ill-health. With these expert tips, you can better manage bowel urgency and enjoy a more comfortable and carefree trip. By addressing the issue openly and preparing effectively, you can reclaim your freedom to travel and experience life without the constant fear of an emergency bathroom run.