Tips for Coping with IBS

Young woman stroking her bellyIBS, short for irritable bowel syndrome, is an intestinal disorder that can cause a whole host of symptoms that can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Sufferers often have to deal with severe abdominal pain and cramps, excess gas, having to rush to the toilet, diarrhoea and constipation. The symptoms of IBS can come and go and sufferers can have months of remission and then several weeks of symptoms. The fact that IBS can come on without warning can cause some sufferers to feel nervous about going out or going about their everyday life, which makes IBS a difficult disorder to deal with.

Unfortunately, irritable bowel syndrome can cause a cycle of symptoms as stress and nervousness felt when a bout of IBS comes on can trigger more IBS symptoms. Therefore, one of the best ways to deal with irritable bowel syndrome is to avoid feelings of stress as it has been proven that this is one of the most common triggers. Some ways to avoid feelings of stress are below:

  • Breathe deeply. Deep breathing is a fantastic way of relieving stress. For example, if you feel yourself becoming anxious or stressed out, close your eyes and take ten deep breaths. After that time, your anxiety and stress should have started to ebb away.
  • Exercise. Exercise is known to be a great way of reducing overall tension and to improve overall mood. Your brain releases certain chemicals and hormones when you exercise and these hormones improve your mood. Exercising for at least thirty minutes per day should help to improve your mood and you should find that your stress levels get lower.
  • Meditation. Although meditation may sound like a New Age way of relieving stress, meditating before bed can really control feelings of stress. It helps you to relax and become less anxious, which in turn helps you to control your IBS symptoms.

Once you’ve begun to manage your stress levels more adequately, you can then begin to make some lifestyle changes to further reduce your risk of further bouts of irritable bowel syndrome. Research has shown that eating large meals, especially close to bedtime, can increase your risk of developing IBS symptoms. One way to reduce your symptoms is to break your meals up into four or five smaller meals throughout the day and to eat all of your meals before 6pm. This lets your body digest your food more easily, meaning that it doesn’t get stuck in your gut and trigger symptoms.

You should also try to eat your meals more slowly. Eating food too quickly can trigger IBS, so take your time over your food and try to concentrate on it – don’t watch television whilst eating and don’t read a book. Concentrate on taking your time over your food and try to enjoy it, rather than rush through it.

Other diet tips for dealing with irritable bowel syndrome include limiting certain foods, such as caffeine, alcohol, and fatty processed foods as these can all trigger IBS symptoms. You should also avoid diet soft drinks, as these can trigger symptoms.

You should also prepare yourself against IBS attacks because they could happen, even if you make a number of lifestyle changes. Take laxatives and anti-diarrhoea tablets with you when you leave the house, so you’re prepared, and keep painkillers such as Ibuprofen with you at all times in case you have stomach pains or stomach cramps. If it makes you feel more comfortable, carry spare clothes with you or keep some in your car or office in case of accidents. Preparing yourself can relieve anxiety that you may be feeling relating to your IBS, so you’ll be less likely to develop symptoms. For more information on dealing with IBS, speak to your doctor.