Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder. The condition results in acute abdominal discomfort, gas, diarrhea, as well as changes in the patterns of one’s bowel movement. IBS with constipation is one of the most common scenarios that can greatly affect your quality of life. According to a study, the IBS affects more than 10% of the population in the country.
The reason for the occurrence of IBS is unknown, which is why there is no specific cure for the condition. However, certain kinds of food items, stress, and hormonal changes are known to flare up the symptoms of this disease. Understanding these symptoms and following some basic steps that ease IBS can help to manage the condition in an effective way. Here are some ways to manage IBS.
Making dietary changes
Simple changes in the diet can help to relieve the troublesome symptoms of IBS. There is no specific diet for the same as some foods may cause IBS symptoms in one person whereas, on the other, they may not.
Eliminating certain foods
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease, certain items have shown to trigger the IBS symptoms:
- Dairy products
- High-fat products
- Alcoholic drinks
- Broccoli, beans, and cabbage
- Drinks containing artificial sweeteners
- Chocolate and nuts
Increasing dietary fiber
Increasing your fiber intake is especially helpful in alleviating the symptoms of IBS with constipation. Doctors suggest consuming 22 to 34 grams of fiber each day. There are plenty of food items that are rich in fiber such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, etc.
It is important to note that fiber should be added gradually to the diet, little by little. For instance, 2 to 3 grams should be added each day. Adding too much fiber in one go can cause bloating and gas, and further, aggravate the IBS symptoms.
Often called the “good bacteria”, probiotics are considered beneficial for the digestive system as they restore the gut flora. These days, probiotic supplements are easily available in grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies. Also, including probiotic-rich food in the daily diet helps a great deal, for example, yogurt, kefir, cultured vegetables etc.
Indulge in a physical activity
Exercise is an effective way to decrease the severity of the symptoms of IBS. Exercise stimulates normal muscle contractions and brings down stress. Performing 20-30 minutes of exercise five times a week can greatly reduce abdominal pain and ease stool problems. Also, regular exercise is beneficial in preventing the IBS symptoms from worsening.
Stress is an important factor that can majorly aggravate the symptoms of IBS. It is imperative to bring down the stress levels in order to secure improved well-being.
For this, you can indulge in a variety of stress-buster techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, abdominal breathing, meditation, counseling as well as getting adequate sleep. Practicing these simple techniques, even for 5 minutes every day, can help one effectively address IBS symptoms and prepare one to deal with stress further.
- Fiber supplements: For people suffering from IBS with constipation, taking over-the-counter fiber supplements is usually a good idea. But in a few cases, these supplements may trigger discomfort, rather than offering relief. It is best to consult a healthcare professional before taking these.
- Laxatives: In case, fiber supplements fail to offer relief, the doctor may recommend laxatives for treating IBS with constipation. There are various types of laxatives such as cathartic laxatives, osmotic laxatives, etc. However, their long-term use is not recommended.
- Anti-diarrheal medications: Anti-diarrheal medications such as loperamide (Imodium) can be helpful in controlling diarrhea. One can also take bile acid binders such as colestipol or cholestyramine. However, these can cause temporary bloating.
- Antispasmodic medications: These medicines help in controlling spasms and reduce cramping. It is important to note that if you are suffering from IBS with constipation, these medicines should be avoided, as they can further exacerbate the condition.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants can help to relieve pain from IBS. Your doctor may recommend small doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine to reduce the pain.
- Peppermint oil: Peppermint oil capsules are easily available as over-the-counter medicines. These help in decreasing the severity of symptoms and easing spasms and cramping.
Apart from all these, there are several other medications that are explicitly approved for IBS. But these medicines are mostly prescribed when dietary changes and other lifestyle alterations fail to secure healthy results.
When to see a doctor?
There is no single treatment or cure for IBS. Trying out a combination of remedies such as changes in the diet along with regular exercises and stress management techniques or psychological therapies can help to reduce the discomfort. However, if nothing seems to be working, one can consult a healthcare professional for a more precise and suitable line of treatment.