If you find yourself consistently dealing with abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, or constipation, then you could be a sufferer of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
With more than ten per cent of adults in the United States being affected by this gastrointestinal disorder, IBS is more common than you might think. But before you act, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider to first rule out any other possible causes, such as coeliac disease.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for IBS, but there are steps you can take to keep on top of the disorder and help settle your symptoms.
Over the Counter Medications for Short Term Treatment
Although there is no single medication that can cure irritable bowel syndrome, certain medicines can be used to rapidly diminish your symptoms.
– As the name suggests, diarrhoea medication such as loperamide (Imodium) are best for stopping diarrhoea in a pinch.
– On the other end of the spectrum, fibre supplements and laxatives can be employed for the temporary relief of constipation.
– Antispasmodic medicines such as dicyclomine (Bentyl) can work to reduce bowel spasms.
– Or, if you are looking for a more natural solution, peppermint oil capsules have been shown to reduce symptoms of IBS such as cramping and spasms.
Keep a Food Diary to Monitor Your Triggers
Many different foods can cause IBS flare-ups, and what triggers one person may not affect another.
Keeping a symptom diary can help you to identify the foods that exacerbate or improve your symptoms. Spend a few weeks recording when and where you experience stomach pain, diarrhoea, constipation, or bloating. Making note of the foods you have eaten, any medications you are on and any other notable symptoms such as sluggishness and fatigue.
Once you have this record, sharing your findings with your doctor can help you narrow down the causes of your flare-ups, and find ways to alter your diet accordingly.
Make Positive Dietary Changes
Once you have figured out the foods that trigger your flare-ups, the process of altering your diet becomes a whole lot easier. But as a rule of thumb some of the things to avoid are:
– Meals with high-fat content, such as fast foods and takeaways.
– Foods and beverages high in artificial sweeteners
– Beans, broccoli, cabbages, and similar gas-causing foods.
It is a good idea to research IBS specific diets such as the Low-Fodmap diet, to find good alternatives to certain foods. For example, if garlic is a trigger for you then garlic infused oils can be used instead, or you could try switching onion for the green tips of spring onions.
Work on Reducing Stress
The intrinsic connection between the brain and our stomachs means that any time you feel stressed in the mind, gastrointestinal flare-ups are likely to follow, and physical, emotional, and environmental stress have all been shown to exacerbate IBS symptoms.
Stress reduction and relaxation techniques such as meditation could therefore be used to relieve and prevent symptoms as they arise. Some things you could try are:
– Guided Meditation
– Deep, abdominal breathing