Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as:
- Stomach pain
Each person with IBS has different symptoms. Some people tend to be bothered by constipation, while others have diarrhea. There are times when symptoms flare up, and times when symptoms may improve or even disappear completely.
About 10-12% of adults in the U.S have symptoms of IBS1, although the condition is not formally diagnosed in all people who experience bothersome symptoms.
No matter what type of symptoms you have or how often they occur, these tips may help you better manage IBS symptoms:
1. Avoid foods and drinks that trigger your IBS.
Foods that may make IBS constipation worse:
- Processed foods, such as cookies or chips
- Refined grains (think white flour) in breads and cereals
- Dairy products, especially cheese
- High-protein diets
- Carbonated drinks
Foods that may make IBS diarrhea worse:
- Too much insoluble fiber, such as from the skin of fruits and vegetables
- Fried foods
- Dairy foods, especially if you're lactose intolerant
- Foods with wheat if you're gluten-sensitive
- Large meals
- Carbonated drinks
2. If you’re not sure what triggers your symptoms, try the elimination approach.
Make a list of foods you suspect may be causing symptoms. Then, eliminate one food at a time for 12 weeks to see if it makes a difference in how you feel.
3. Limit processed foods.
Processed foods often contain unexpected or hidden ingredients that trigger IBS flare-ups.
4. Aim for small meals.
Eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of 3 big meals.
5. Don’t eat too quickly.
If you're eating too fast, then you may overeat or swallow too much air. This can leave your tummy feeling bloated or gassy.
6. If you’re constipated, increase the amount of soluble fiber in your diet instead of insoluble fiber.
This will help ease constipation without bloating or diarrhea.
7. Try ginger, peppermint or chamomile tea.
These may improve a variety of digestion issues.
8. Don’t smoke.
Smoking may worsen your symptoms.
9. Find ways to manage stress and anxiety, which can trigger flare-ups.
There are many things you can do to relieve stress and anxiety. Try to exercise every day. Spend time with family or friends. Take a relaxing bath or practice yoga.
See a Doctor to Further Ease Symptoms
If your IBS symptoms are hard to get under control, schedule an appointment with a Temple gastroenterologist. Besides lifestyle modifications, medicines can also help ease symptoms.
Request an appointment today or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536).