Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a chronic condition. Its unpredictability can make it very hard to manage. Part of the challenge is that talking about the symptoms can be embarrassing. It doesn’t have to be embarrassing. IBS is not a rare condition – millions of people live with this disorder every day. Knowing that there is no cure, they change their lifestyles and find tips and tricks to get through their day without mishaps. Here are some of the guidelines that you can follow to live with IBS.
Start by discussing IBS with your doctor
It’s important to get a definite diagnosis from your doctor as knowing that you suffer from IBS will reduce your stress. Ask your doctor about your condition and tips to manage IBS as well as different treatment options like cognitive behavioral therapy or medicines. It’s important that you don’t try these without a doctor’s consent. Look into non-medical treatments such as diet, relaxation, and exercise. The best is to work with your doctor towards a long-term strategy to deal with IBS.
Know your IBS triggers and symptoms
It’s a good idea to keep track of your symptoms in a symptom journal. Keep a record of when you have experienced stomach pain, discomfort, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Also include what you were doing, how you were feeling and what types of foods you ate and medicines you took. This will help you identify triggers for symptoms of IBS. If you know your triggers, you can manage your IBS more effectively. If you discuss these with your doctor, he will also be able to provide you with a better treatment plan.
Our lives are in over-drive nowadays and everyone suffers from some form of stress. It’s important to manage stress, especially if you’re suffering from IBS as stress can worsen your condition. Figure out what your daily stressors are and try to reduce them and their impact on your life. You can also go for cognitive behavioral therapy to help you establish coping mechanisms for stress.
IBS can wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns. It’s a vicious cycle – poor sleep can worsen IBS while IBS can mean that your sleeping patterns are disturbed. It’s important to get enough sleep to ensure that you stay healthy. People with irregular sleeping patterns have a higher chance of developing IBS. You want your circadian rhythms to be consistent.
We know what you’re thinking – you can’t exercise with IBS, the symptoms are simply too unpredictable. In fact, the opposite is true. Exercise will help to keep your IBS under control. Try to exercise a few times a week to get your heart pumping. Exercise forms like yoga which works on relaxation and breathing can also help you to deal better with stress – a common contributor to IBS. Regular exercise habits also mean that you are more likely to regulate your dietary habits which can cause more stable bowel movements. In addition, exercise gives you time to deal with your stressors in a positive way that provides stress relief.
Diet is the number one factor that influences IBS symptoms. Two-thirds of people living with IBS say that their symptoms are worse after eating a meal. So what should you eat? Doctors don’t really have the answer to that yet as it varies from person to person. However, doctors have been focusing on something called the FODMAP diet. This diet excludes food items with lactose and fructose: dairy, honey, corn syrup, sugar-free candy and gums, wheat, rye bread, fruits like apples and watermelon. However, we recommend that you talk to a gastro-intestinal doctor or a dietary specialist first before you jump onto the FODMAP wagon. Dietary changes should always be discussed with a medical professional first.
If you’re set on tackling IBS head-on it’s important to keep your doctor involved. Dr. Boris Cvetkovski of GastroIntestinal Healthcare will help you to manage IBS in such a way that it won’t interfere with your lifestyle. His motto is to improve your health from the inside out. Call 919.870.1311 for an appointment to discuss the options for dealing with your IBS today.