Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be painful, annoying, and embarrassing. There is currently no cure for this complex condition, and its symptoms and relapses are difficult to manage. Coping mechanisms are therefore a constant need.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder in which your bowels become more sensitive and the muscles of your digestive system have abnormal contractions. People with IBS usually have abdominal pain and frequent changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or switching between the two). Other common symptoms are
- Bloating and gas
- Urge to move the bowel but not being able to
- incomplete bowel movements
- urgent need to move the bowel.
Since no one knows what causes IBS, it is impossible to prevent it from happening. Once you’ve been diagnosed, the goal is to focus on treating the condition. You can do this by identifying specific triggers for your IBS symptoms and then employing strategies to make them less severe and common.
The most common approaches are dietary changes – eliminating or reducing problematic foods – and stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Certain diet supplements, as well as over-the-counter and prescription drugs, can also help. Your doctor can help you implement these strategies and advise on which medications to take.
Manage IBS every day
People often need extra support, especially when it comes to dealing with the awkwardness and emotional turmoil of living with IBS. Here are some ways to get the extra assistance you might need.
Join a support group. Talking to other people who are dealing with IBS can help you manage the stress and anxiety of your disorder. The online community self-help and support group for irritable bowel syndrome provides moral support and information, including news of recent research on IBS.
Prepare for public outings. Don’t let IBS stop you from leading an active social life. Taking care of your IBS can help avoid potential problems. For example, always pay attention to the nearest bathroom and try to sit near it. When eating, try to check the menu in advance. If there are no pleasant meals, you can eat beforehand. Also, don’t be afraid to call it an early night if your IBS is behaving. People will understand if you say that you just don’t feel good.
Share with someone. Not everyone needs to know about your IBS, but do tell a few friends and colleagues so they can insure you if symptoms occur.
Have emergency equipment ready. Always have spare underwear, clothing, toilet paper, wet wipes and a large plastic bag ready just in case.
Do not rush to defecate. This can help reduce the stress of going to the bathroom all the time. Allow yourself regular time or times to have a bowel movement each day. Give yourself the time it takes to relax. Avoid excessive strain when pushing. Using a footstool to elevate your feet can help.