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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month: Managing IBS

IBS Awareness

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common gastrointestinal condition that causes abdominal pain, gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea. For those who suffer from it, IBS requires a thorough understanding and careful management to relieve the symptoms of this chronic condition.

Symptoms of IBS

IBS can manifest itself in a number of unpleasant ways, including:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Mucus in the stool

Managing IBS

Some people control their IBS with dietary choices, lifestyle changes, and stress management. Others may also need medication and counseling. Fortunately, IBS doesn’t damage bowel tissue or put you at a higher risk for colorectal cancer, like other inflammatory bowel conditions. IBS simply requires some adjustments to ease your symptoms.

Manage your stress

IBS can be brought on by stress, and often manifests as abdominal pain and bloating. Find healthy ways to manage your stress, such as meditation, counseling, deep breathing and yoga.

Incorporate more fiber

Small changes to your daily diet can help you manage IBS as well. By consuming more fiber, you can ease some gastrointestinal symptoms, like constipation. Make sure to gradually add fiber into your diet, as a sudden and large increase can make gas and cramping worse.

Avoid or limit certain foods

There are certain foods that can make IBS flare-ups worse. These include:

  • Chocolate
  • Sugar-free sweeteners
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Dairy

Hydrate often

Drinking plenty of water can help ease symptoms of IBS, while other beverages can make them worse. Try to minimize your intake of:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks
  • Carbonated drinks, like soda

Exercise regularly

Exercise is a great way to reduce symptoms caused by IBS. In one study, researchers found that people who participated in physical activity had less gastrointestinal distress than those who did not exercise. Walking for as little as 15 to 30 minutes after a meal can help.

When to see a doctor

It’s recommended that you see your doctor if you experience persistent changes in your bowel habits, as this can point to a more severe condition. Symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem include:

  • Abdominal pain that occurs or worsens at night
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, or any of the classic symptoms of IBS, call the physicians at Pomona Valley Health Centers today at (888) 686-0773 to schedule your appointment.