IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a chronic gastrointestinal condition characterized by symptoms affecting the gut. These may include stomach discomfort and trouble with bowel habits, and while the condition is not life-threatening or extremely dangerous, it can have a serious impact on the lives of patients.
Irritable bowel syndrome also comes with other challenges, such as finding a treatment plan that works for everyone. In fact, there really is no all-encompassing treatment for IBS. This is because treatments often vary depending on the symptoms and severity each individual patient is experiencing. In general, treatment methods usually consist of avoiding trigger foods and other triggers such as medicines, alcohol, and stress.
The best thing someone with IBS can do is learn how to manage IBS through personal monitoring of their habits and symptoms since this can give your doctor insight on the right course of treatment. In the meantime, here are 10 tips on how to manage IBS.
Tips On How To Manage IBS
1. Avoid Caffeine
For most people with IBS caffeine is a big trigger of unwanted symptoms, since coffee and espresso can upset your gut and alter your bowel movements. Other common food triggers you may want to avoid include fried foods, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and food/drink items containing high fructose corn syrup.
2. Add Fiber To (Or Take Away Some Fiber From) Your Diet
Constipation and diarrhea are good indicators that you need to make some changes to the amount of fiber in your diet. Consuming fiber is a great way to regulate your bowel movements and to soften your stool. If you do add fiber supplements, be sure it’s soluble fiber, which takes longer to digest. Soluble fiber can be found in oat bran, barley, and in navy, pinto, and lima beans.
3. Hydrate Properly
Drinking plenty of water is a vital part of keeping your gut healthy, your bowel movements regular, and your stool soft. Proper hydration can also help diminish other symptoms of IBS, such as bloating.
4. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is a big distresser when it comes to gut and gastrointestinal health. Not only does smoking release hundreds of toxins into our body and raise the acidity in our stomach, it also alters our bowel movements and can trigger a variety of unwanted symptoms.
5. Get Proper Exercise
Getting a good amount of moderate exercise every day can significantly improve your symptoms of IBS, not only because it can help ease bloating, but also because exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety - which are big IBS triggers.
6. Limit Dairy
Dairy is notorious for leaving patients with IBS bloated, gassy, and in a general amount of discomfort. If you notice you present symptoms of IBS after consuming dairy, you may want to consider limiting the amount you are eating, or cutting it out altogether.
7. Manage Stress
Stress and anxiety are known IBS triggers, so managing IBS may come down to controlling these two factors in your everyday life. Patients of IBS who suffer from stress and anxiety may benefit from therapy and anxiety medications.
8. Keep A Record Of The Foods You Eat
Keeping a journal of the foods you eat can really help you and your doctor determine which foods are triggering your symptoms the most. It can also help to record any other times when you felt your symptoms spike (after your medications, in the morning before work, etc), which may point to triggers like medications or anxiety.
9. Drink Probiotics
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that live in our gut and help maintain its health. While there is not much scientific evidence to back this up, recent studies have shown that certain probiotics may relieve IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
10. Practice Relaxation
While exercising can certainly help reduce your symptoms of IBS, so can allowing yourself time to relax and de-stress. This time can include yoga, meditation, reading, listening to music, or taking a nice long bath. Self-care is gut care!
Treating IBS involves some process of elimination and getting something that works right for you may take some time and involvement. To begin your treatment of IBS, contact us to book your appointment with our colorectal specialists today!