Is IBS A Pain In Your Stomach? 5 Tips to Control Your IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic condition that affects the bowels and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Symptoms can flare up over and over again and can also change over time. While IBS can be uncomfortable, it doesn’t cause changes in your bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States and about 2 of 3 sufferers are female. IBS can develop at any time but usually appears first during early adulthood. The cause of IBS is unknown so there is no one treatment for everyone.
IBS can cause a great deal of discomfort, and luckily there are many different ways to control your symptoms:
1. Focus on Your Diet
Different foods affect people in different ways. Keep a food journal and note which foods seem to trigger you distress. For example, if dairy causes a flare up, you can try eating less of that particular type of food. IBS is not caused by your diet, but your symptoms can be managed through what you eat (or don’t). Common “trouble” foods include high fiber foods such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Other troublesome foods include alcohol, chocolate, coffee, soda and dairy products.
2. Manage Your Stress
Managing stress is important in avoiding IBS related symptoms. Stress does not cause IBS but can worsen trigger symptoms. Managing and coping with stress and anxiety can lead to more regular bowel movements. There are many ways to manage your stress so try out a few to see which works best for you or discuss with your physician.
3. Daily Exercise
Exercise isn’t just great for your health; it is also a giant stress reliever. Did you know that exercise is also critically important for your gastrointestinal system? If your body is sluggish your stomach will follow – if you are fit your stomach will be healthier and better regulated. Try walking for 30 minutes, 3 days a week to start!
4. Beware Laxatives
Over-the-counter laxative choices can be your best friend or worst enemy depending on how you use them. If you know you have IBS, talk to your physician prior to trying laxatives. Make sure you read the directions with any medication you take to avoid problems.
5. Consult With Your Physician
Talk to your physician if you’re uncertain about which lifestyle techniques might work best for you and the severity of your IBS. If you have tried various lifestyle changes and can’t get your symptoms under control, ask your physician about medications that have been approved for IBS.