Tips on How to Handle Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome affects 25-45 million Americans. If you’re among them, you know the frustration and challenge that the varying symptoms cause. You may experience very mild inconvenience some days, with bloating and cramps, to extremely debilitating symptoms that include disabling constipation and/or diarrhea.

Living with IBS can interfere with your work, social life, relationships, and recreation. But here at Digestive Disorders Associates, we know there are ways to manage the condition.

While everyone’s experience with IBS is different, certain strategies can help you handle your symptoms and live a more normal life. We want to help IBS sufferers in the Annapolis, Maryland, community with their digestive distress and bowel problems. 

Here are some tips on how to handle irritable bowel syndrome.

Identify triggering foods

Truth be told: You just can’t eat whatever you want and not suffer the consequences. Certain foods are associated with flare-ups, and the triggers differ from person to person. We can help you make simple changes to get relief from your IBS symptoms.

To identify your triggers, you need to start a food diary that not only details the foods you eat, but the symptoms and severity of IBS flare-ups, too. You may begin to see a correlation so you can tailor your meals to better manage your condition.

Foods and beverages that commonly aggravate IBS include high-fat foods, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, dairy, and gas-causing foods such as legumes, cabbage, and onions. You might start by eliminating or greatly minimizing your intake of those foods.

Eat more fiber

If your IBS is characterized by constipation, eating foods with more fiber can help. Focus on fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Go slow when adding fiber though. Too much all at once can cause your IBS to erupt with abdominal pain, gas, and distension. Increase your intake over the course of several weeks, rather than all at once.

If you find getting enough fiber in your diet through foods is too hard, we can recommend specific fiber supplements when necessary.

Focus on low-FODMAP foods

Some people with IBS benefit from a low-FODMAP diet, which is a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Many foods contain these short-chain carbohydrates, and people with IBS have trouble digesting them, resulting in the symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas, and bloating.

FODMAPs aren’t something you readily find on ingredient lists, but we can help you adopt a low-FODMAP diet by offering a menu plan and strategy to eliminate potentially offending foods.

Reduce stress

Your gut reacts negatively to stress, whether it’s caused by a demanding job, financial problems, family issues, or general life concerns. Stress can cause IBS symptoms to worsen and last for a long time. Yoga, meditation, reducing your workload, and seeing a counselor are all ways to deal with stress and possibly lessen its effect on your IBS.

If you suffer from anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be a way to treat and ease your anxiety, thus relieving some IBS symptoms.

Ask us about medications

No medication cures IBS, but some medicines may help alleviate some of the symptoms. In addition to fiber supplements, we can offer recommendations on laxatives for constipation-predominant IBS. If you have IBS with diarrhea, we may suggest certain antidiarrheal agents.

Some anticholinergics and antispasmodics are effective in preventing or relieving symptoms of IBS. Ask about these, which are often most effective when you experience pain soon after eating.

Don’t suffer the pain, embarrassment, and unpredictability of IBS any longer. Contact our team at Digestive Disorders Associates to benefit from expert treatment and management. Call today or book online. 

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