How to Effectively Reduce IBS Symptoms
Many patients struggle with stomach symptoms for many years without a diagnosis. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the large intestine that affects up to 35 million Americans. Symptoms of IBS include cramping, diarrhea, excessive gas, bloating, constipation, and stomach pain. While IBS is most common in patients over the age of 30, it can occur in patients of any age. Adopting the following strategies can help you treat and manage this common condition.
1. Avoid trigger foods
Avoiding trigger foods can help you prevent Irritable Bowel Syndrome attacks. Common trigger foods include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, dairy, friend foods, and spicy foods.
2. Follow a low-FODMAP diet
If you have ongoing gut symptoms, adopting a low FODMAP diet may help you in managing your symptoms. FODMAPs, also known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. These short chain carbohydrates can trigger digestive symptoms. The main sources of FODMAPs include wheat, rye, legumes, milk products, and dried fruits.
3. Minimize your stress levels
Stress and anxiety can trigger overactivity of your gut. The following relaxation techniques can help you manage your stress.
- Yoga - Yoga has many styles and intensities. Hatha yoga is a good choice for stress management because it involves slower and easier movements.
- Meditation - Meditation is an effective stress-management tool. Try meditating for 30 minutes a day to bring calmness and clarity to your day.
- Abdominal breathing - Belly breathing encourages full oxygen exchange. This deep breathing technique engages your diaphragm, which is at the bottom of your rib cage.
- Progressive muscle relaxation - This method helps relieve tension in your body by relaxing muscle groups in a certain order. It involves tensing and then relaxing your muscles, one by one.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - This form of psychological treatment involves changing the automatic negative thoughts that contribute to stress and anxiety. CBT is a talk therapy based on the concept that your mind and body are interconnected.
4. Consider over-the-counter remedies
If you have a question about what over-the-counter remedies we recommend for IBS, please talk with one of our expert pharmacists. The following three OTC remedies are widely used for IBS symptoms.
- Fiber supplements - Psyllium, a soluble fiber, can provide significant pain relief for IBS patients. It is also a safe and effective solution for constipation and diarrhea.
- Laxatives - Laxatives are used to stimulate bowel movements. There are many laxatives designed specifically for IBS. Consult with one of our pharmacists to learn more.
- Probiotics - Gut flora imbalances can contribute to symptoms of IBS. Two strains of bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium infantis, have shown promise in alleviating diarrhea from IBS.
5. Work out for at least 30 minutes a day
Regular exercise can help you manage your symptoms. Low to moderate intensity activities can help reduce stress and depression, which can trigger IBS symptoms.
6. Talk with your doctor
If your symptoms do not resolve, talk with your doctor. He or she will evaluate your specific case and develop a plan that is appropriate for you.
If you have any questions about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, please reach out to one of our pharmacists. We would be happy to discuss your overall diet, recommend specific supplements to alleviate your symptoms, and help you schedule a free nutrition consultation.