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Understanding and Managing IBS Symptoms During Irritable Bowel Month

Published on Apr 07, 2023 | 2:08 PM

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain, discomfort, and altered bowel habits without any identifiable structural or biochemical abnormalities. 

What is IBS?

April is recognized as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) awareness month, which aims to raise awareness of this common gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. According to John Hopkins, 15% of Americans suffer from the condition, with cases in female patients doubling male cases. For either sex, most patients develop symptoms before 40. 

IBS is a chronic condition that can cause various symptoms,  including abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. While irritable bowel syndrome can be challenging to manage, there are various ways to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. 

Practice an IBS plan

One of the most effective ways to manage IBS symptoms is through diet. Practicing an IBS-mindful diet plan involves identifying and avoiding trigger foods that may exacerbate symptoms, such as fatty or spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Instead, sources like John Hopkins Medicine stress incorporating low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) foods into your diet. The importance of FODMAP has proven to be effective for many patients, improving life for those particularly bothered by the condition. Such foods highlighted by FODMAP include: 

  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Fruits
  • Grains
  • Lean proteins
  • Vegetables

With a more healthy diet, it's also essential to stay hydrated and eat smaller, more frequent meals to aid digestion. Working with a registered dietitian can also be helpful in developing an individualized IBS diet plan that works best for you. By making dietary changes, individuals with irritable bowel syndrome can find relief from symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Learn about IBS medication

In addition to dietary changes, medications can also help manage IBS symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, over-the-counter options such as fiber supplements and OTC loperamide are some medications that can help alleviate constipation, while antidiarrheal medications can help control diarrhea. 

Prescription medications such as antidepressants, antispasmodics, and antibiotics may also be used to treat specific symptoms of IBS. However, it's essential to work closely with a board-certified doctor to determine the most effective medication and dosage for your specific symptoms.

It's also important to note that medications may have side effects and may not be suitable for everyone. Therefore, it's important to discuss potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

Reduce stress to help with IBS symptoms

Relaxation can play an essential role in managing IBS symptoms. Stress and anxiety are known triggers for IBS, and can exacerbate symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating. 

Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calmness. According to Healthline, regular exercise can also help reduce stress levels and improve overall physical and mental health. 

It's important to find relaxation techniques that work best for you and incorporate them into your daily routine. Healthcare providers like Call-On-Doc can be a great source for those needing additional assistance, Our team treats conditions that flare up IBS, like anxiety and panic disorder. By reducing stress levels, individuals with IBS can experience a decrease in symptom severity and improve their overall quality of life.

Life can be normal with IBS!

As April marks Irritable Bowel Month, it's an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of IBS and promote education and understanding of this chronic condition. By working with healthcare providers and making lifestyle modifications, individuals with IBS can find relief from symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Source:

  1. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs.
  2. Veloso, Hazel Galon. “FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fodmap-diet-what-you-need-to-know.
  3. Minnis, Gregory, and Alina Petre. “IBS and Exercise: What to Do and What to Avoid.” Healthline, 30 March 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/ibs-and-exercise.
  4. “Irritable bowel syndrome - Diagnosis and treatment.” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360064.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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