Symptoms of IBS can be reduced by trying variations of the lists below. No one is the same and some things work for some people but not others as IBS is a general term to cover various kinds of gastrointestinal problems.
It can take a while to find the best combinations to make you feel better so be sure to keep a diary. Use this to to record how you feel each day, as well as how many and the type of bowel movements you have. I use a scale of 1 - 10 of happiness, 1 being very sad and 10 being very happy with the day. Also record your food intake in your diary. You will hopefully start to be able to see some patterns and realise a certain food may be causing problems or something that happened that day triggered an attack. This diary will also be invaluable for any specialists you see about your condition.
As always, be sure to consult your doctor about any changes you plan on making.
There are many diets that aim to help reduce IBS symptoms. They generally try and eliminate trigger foods such as gluten or foods high in fibre. Some examples of diets to look into are:
It helps to look into your fibre intake as depending on the type of IBS too much or too little fibre can cause problems.
Diarrhoea suffers can try reducing insoluble fibre. Some examples are: wholegrain wheat, nuts, bran and cereals.
Constipation suffers can try increasing their soluble fibre intake. Examples are: oats, banana, apple, barley.
As always, it always helps to ensure you eat properly and regularly. Try and cut back on bad foods such as sweets, caffeine and anything you have notice can trigger symptoms.
Exercise can help reduce symptoms of IBS. Often after a good workout you may find your symptoms are an afterthought for a while but in the long run fitness and healthiness will ensure your body can help combat your symptoms. Guidelines by NHS advise to do 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio or 1 hour 15 minutes of vigorous intensity cardio (or an equivalent mix of both) and 2 days of the week should include muscle strengthening exercises. It may be helpful to aim to do 30 minutes of exercise daily or one hour every couple of days. Talk to your doctor to advise you on which exercises are suitable for you.
Reducing stress can be very beneficial. This can help reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms as stress can be a main cause of IBS attacks. Physical exercise as well as relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga and meditation can all help. You may want to take a step back and see what could be causing you stress in your life and find ways to try and eliminate or reduce them. It can also help to see a stress counsellor or cognitive behavioural therapist. Hypnotherapy is also another possible avenue to try for eliminating stress and providing a better outlook.
There are various medicines that help to reduce IBS symptoms. These medications target the various areas:
- antispasmodic medicines – these help reduce cramping and abdominal pain
- antimobility medicines – these help treat symptoms of diarrhoea
- laxatives for treating symptoms of constipation
- antidepressants – in small doses these medicines are known to reduce pain and mobility of the gut.
Talk to your doctor if you feel you want to try treating your symptoms with medication. Always ensure you follow their directions and advice.