Cutting Through The Crap: Tips To Treat IBS
Whether you’re at work, or out on date night, the last thing that anyone wants to worry about is digestive issues. Of course each of us has experienced a stomachache at some point with all of its discomfort and at times, embarrassing side effects. However for nearly 35 million Americans, stomach issues become a part of the monthly, weekly or even daily routine.
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is one of the main culprits behind chronic digestive problems. Unfortunately, IBS can be difficult to diagnose—no simple test can detect it. And it can be even harder to treat as symptoms may vary and be sporadic. The difficulty in diagnosing and treating IBS stems largely from the fact that experts can’t quite pinpoint the cause behind it.
So What Exactly is IBS?
Individuals with IBS have digestive tracts that react abnormally to certain substances or to stress. In other words, they have a very sensitive large intestine and/or colon. This leads to symptoms like cramps, gas, bloating, pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
Despite these unpleasant symptoms, the good news is that IBS doesn’t cause any damage to your digestive tract.
Top Tactics for Relieving IBS
While IBS triggers and symptoms can vary from person to person, these are some common techniques to get you moving in the right direction—away from IBS.
Dietary Changes: Dietary changes have long been recommended as a good first step in treating IBS. Remember, change takes time; to really see the impact of diet changes, you have to stay patient. Depending on your unique symptoms, you may want to incorporate one or more of these changes:
Incorporating more fiber can be helpful, especially if you have constipation. However, don’t go pedal to the metal with fiber, if you take too much too fast, this can make your symptoms worse. Try gradually incorporating more fiber-rich foods, including oats, whole grain, barley, fruits and vegetables.
Start to take notice of the foods you eat. Avoid foods that can cause gas, such as beans, broccoli and foods with fructose (natural sugar in artichokes, onions, pears, wheat…etc.). Also note the foods that you find trigger or worsen symptoms, these often include milk, coffee and sugar substitutes.
You may want to try going gluten free. The symptoms of Celiac disease and IBS can be tough to distinguish between, but it is worth noting that individuals with IBS can be more likely to have celiac disease, especially if they also have thyroid problems or type 1diabetes.
Medicine: A variety of drugs are available to treat the symptoms of IBS. Based on your specific problems, your doctor may give you one that prevents diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain. However, you’ll want to avoid self-treating and taking medications without your doctor’s input as some of them can worsen IBS symptoms.
Mental Health Therapy: IBS has been linked to mood disorders like depression and anxiety. People who dwell on worst-case scenarios tend to have more severe symptoms. High levels of stress can trigger the condition, too.
For these reasons, doctors sometimes suggest therapies that can boost mental health. These may include counseling, talk therapy, hypnosis, and stress management.
Finding the Right Treatment Option for You: When it comes to something as complex as your digestive system, it’s best to turn to the experts for help. With chronic tummy troubles, it can impact your overall health, including your quality of life. At Gwinnett Medical Center, we offer access to experienced gastroenterologists, as well as other specialists that can keep your digestive system running smoothly. From diagnostics, to long-term treatment options, Gwinnett Medical Center can help.