What Other Lifestyle Changes Help Relieve Ibs Symptoms
In addition to dietary changes, there are some healthy habits that may also help reduce IBS symptoms.
- Maintain good physical fitness to improve bowel function and help reduce stress.
- Stop smoking for overall good health.
- Avoid coffee/caffeine and chewing gum.
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption may help.
- Stress management can help prevent or ease IBS symptoms.
- Use relaxation techniques: deep breathing, visualization, Yoga
- Do things you find enjoyable: talk to friends, read, listen to music
- Gut-directed hypnosis can reduce stress and anxiety
- Biofeedback teaches you to recognize your body’s responses to stress and you can learn to slow your heart rate and relax.
Shame Is Your Worst Enemy
The vicious cycle of shame and avoidance can lead to bigger issues that are directly linked to digestive issues. âIn fact,â Dr. Hunt says, âKeeping your GI disorder secret is associated with experiencing more debilitating GI symptoms.â
If you avoid talking to people completely about your IBS, youâre more likely to make the problem that much worse, both emotionally and physically. âIBS is highly correlated with stress, and creating more stress isnât going to help you get better,â explains Arizona-based mental health counselor and registered dietitian nutritionist Lisa Schmidt.
The stress, anxiety, and embarrassment combine to make people reluctant to reach out for support, which Cooper says âcreates a kind of ongoing secret that one feels they have to protect.â And, as anyone with depression or anxiety can attest, that isolation is wildly unhelpful with making progress.
I can speak to the effects of this reluctance to share personally: Whenever I find myself stressing or worrying about what havoc my IBS might wreak when Iâm out at a restaurant or visiting a friend, it only compounds the problem. I start freaking out about what could happen, turning my stomach into a knot. Sometimes it does feel easier to just cancel plans and stay in.
But, as Dr. Hunt points out, âThis can be a real problem in personal relationships, because other people often assume that you’re just not that interested in being friends with them, or being close to them.â
Essential Travel Tips For People With Ibs
Stress, spicy food, and sleep loss are just a few things that spell trouble for travelers with IBS. Before you pack your bags, try these tips for a carefree and flare-free trip.
Traveling with IBS can be unpleasant, to say the least.
Rachel Pauls, a female pelvic medicine specialist based in Cincinnati, has struggled traveling with irritable bowel syndrome more times than she can count.
At one business dinner, she just moved food around on her plate because she knew the meal would trigger her IBS symptoms.
On another trip to an all-inclusive resort with her family, she ate only scrambled eggs and turkey for a week to keep her symptoms at bay.
An IBS flare-up can quickly ruin a vacation or business trip, she says.
The urge to run to the bathroom during an important meeting can feel awkward. And the need to be cautious when trying new foods at dinner with family can feel like a burden.
There is no question that some IBS symptoms can get aggravated during travel, says Ashkan Farhadi, MD, a gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center. But some of those things can be preemptively dealt with.
Here are some simple strategies to keep in mind the next time youre traveling with IBS.
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What Can Partners Family And Friends Do
If your partner, friend, or family member is struggling with IBS, then one important thing you can do is take the time to learn about the condition. By educating yourself about IBS you will be better able to understand what your significant other is going through. You can support healthy communication in your relationship by:
- Respecting the other personâs boundaries and trusting them when they tell you what works for them and what doesnât. They are the expert when it comes to their body.
- Supporting the other person without being patronizing. For instance, avoid suggestions such as “You should/shouldnât eat thisâ.
- Accepting that IBS is an unpredictable condition, so you may need to be okay with changing plans at the last minute. A flexible attitude can help manage a stressful situation and diffuse tension.
Another thing you can do is to refrain from telling stories of people who had the same/similar condition and got better. You might be trying to put a positive spin on it. However, every personâs health journey is unique and making out-of-context comparisons is not always helpful.
How I Explain What Fibromyalgia Feels Like
Someone once asked me to describe what fibromyalgia feels like. Well, not just one person, but I began thinking about how to explain it when the first person asked. Over time, my description has morphed a bit, but I have found one description that people seem to understand the most.
There are a lot of different ways fibromyalgia impacts people we might have the same diagnosis, but everyones journey, symptoms and experiences are different. I have told people about the spoon theory as well as other descriptions. This one, however, seems to work the best for me.
When people ask me now about my fibromyalgia, I find they arent being nosy they are actually curious and/or concerned. Instead of just blowing it off with a one-sentence response, I give them a few minutes of time to help them get a glimpse, without freaking them out. Heres how it goes:
Now, imagine waking up in that pre-flu state every day. Like every. Single. Day.
Luckily my current medication regimen works well to keep my fibromyalgia more manageable and tolerable. For some people it is much worse, so I am blessed to have found great doctors and have been able to get it to a level that allows me to live my life pretty unencumbered.
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment
The goal of IBS treatment is to provide relief from your symptoms. Your exact course of treatment will depend on the type and severity of your symptoms.
The success of the treatment often depends on having a good understanding of what IBS is and how it is treated. Fortunately, there are dietary, pharmacologic and behavioral approaches that can help, and they should be individualized to you. So ask your doctor lots of questions and help your doctor get to know what is important to you. Patients with better relationships with their medical provider often report that they have better symptom control.
Many patients worry about their symptoms and what will happen to them in the future. IBS is troubling and uncomfortable, but the condition itself does not increase your risk of any future health difficulties.
Treatment of IBS and associated symptoms may include:
- Dietary changes
- Alternative therapies
Prepare For The Unexpected
Itâs good to be ready to talk about your IBS-D when it comes up. With careful management of your symptoms, however, you might be able to prevent IBS-D from derailing your routine in the first place.
Lacy suggests these tips:
Think ahead: Take your medications before you go out. Also, find out where the bathrooms are as soon as you get to someplace new so you can get to them quickly.
Avoid your triggers: âPeople know their âsafeâ foods,â Lacy says. Stay in your comfort zone when choosing what goes on your plate, and you can avoid long stays on the toilet that have to be explained later.
Soothe your stomach: Sipping water or a non-caffeinated drink like peppermint tea might do the trick, Lacy says.
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What Are The Causes Of Ibs
Researchers dont exactly know what causes IBS. They think a combination of factors can lead to IBS, including:
- Dysmotility: Problems with how your GI muscles contract and move food through the GI tract.
- Visceral hypersensitivity: Extra-sensitive nerves in the GI tract.
- Brain-gut dysfunction: Miscommunication between nerves in the brain and gut.
Lauren White Talking How Ibs Affects Daily Life
Its a natural part of our life and we all do it and some of us have issues with it like any other part of our body but why is it that its not socially acceptable to be open about our bowel and having a bowel condition? Yes, its the poo taboo. An embarrassing secret that some of us harbour from even our closest loved ones.
Lauren White is a PhD student researching into the social boundaries of common bowel condition Irritable Bowel Syndrome and how the symptoms affect us socially in everyday life and how those who live with it negotiate this tricky condition. Lauren also has a long term bowel condition, which led her to start her research.
Lauren is dedicated to raising awareness around the condition and in the past has conducted a toilet mapping study, which explored how those with IBS make maps of toilets as they go about their daily life, highlighting the often immense work that those with bowel conditions face when managing their symptoms and looking for lavatories.
Lauren, thank you for taking the time to talk to us at the Bladder and Bowel Community
Thank you im really glad to be invited into the Bladder and Bowel Community!
Tell us a little bit about your research projects on everyday life with IBS and toilet mapping?
How does IBS affect someone on a daily basis?
IBS is a condition that affects you personally. How do you think this has affected you socially?
Why do you think it is so socially unacceptable to talk about toilet issues?
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If Your Date Is Turned Off When You Explain Your Diagnosis It Could Be A Blessing In Disguise
When it comes to telling a date about your condition, Goldstein said you shouldn’t feel pressured to explain right away.
“You don’t have to put all of your baggage out there on the first few dates, however, after a few weeks of dating, once you feel more comfortable, it’s something that you want to disclose,” she said. “And the chance of that person caring is much less because they’ve gotten to know you as a person.”
And if a date seems turned off when you tell them you have IBS, it could be a blessing in disguise, Wilson said.
“I think a ‘good guy’ or ‘good girl’ is going to be understanding. So it’s kind of a strange litmus test that’s very unintentional, but by proxy does end up being a good indicator of how supportive someone may be.”
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What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have IBS symptoms, ask your provider:
- Could another condition be causing my symptoms?
- What medications can help?
- What foods should I avoid?
- What other lifestyle changes should I make?
- Can a dietitian help me?
- Should I see a gastroenterologist?
- When will I start to feel better?
- Am I at risk for other health conditions?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Living with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can be challenging. IBS symptoms, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, gas and bloating, often interfere with your life. But IBS is manageable. Though there is no cure, you can control and improve symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes. If you have stomach symptoms that arent going away, talk to your healthcare provider. Together, you can find an IBS treatment plan that works for you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/24/2020.
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Symptoms Of Ibs In Women
Women may tend to have symptoms around the time of menstruation, or they may have more symptoms during this time. Menopausal women have fewer symptoms than women who are still menstruating. Some women have also reported that certain symptoms increase during pregnancy. Learn more about the nature of IBS symptoms in women.
IBS pain may feel like cramping. With this cramping, you will also have at least two of the following experiences:
- some relief of pain after a bowel movement
- a change in how often you have a bowel movement
- changes in the way your stools look
Tips And Tricks For Other Women With Ibs
In addition to talking to a nutritionist with doctor, Scarlett recommends keeping a food diary so you can watch out for foods that trigger symptoms. “If Ive eaten a food thats a trigger, Ill feel it within a few hours,” she says.
Scarlett says that a lot of people tell her that life must not be worth living without cheese or chocolate. “Before, Id have a family-size chocolate bar every night,” she says. “I really loved it.” But shes learned not to miss these foods. “I like way I feel without them, so I never really miss them,” she says.
When her IBS does flare up, Scarlett says making time for self-care helps her still feel sexy. “You want to feel glamorous, but its hard when youre feeling crap inside,” she says. “When Im feeling like that, it helps to experiment with makeup. Its also nice to have a couple go-to outfits you can still wear and feel good in. Its all about learning to live with it and not wallowing in fact of how you feel.”
While it hasnt been easy, Scarlett says IBS has changed her life in many ways for the better. “I was always on so many diets because I wanted to lose weight,” she says. “But Id do it for two weeks thinking Id be my dream size, and its not how it works. As a byproduct of changing my diet, I have to go for healthier options and stick with them. It teaches you to respect your body.”
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You’re Better Off Being Direct About It
Look, no matter how old you are or where you are in your life, talking about your poop problems can be seriously embarrassing. âI’ve had lots of patients tell me that they wish they had migraines or back pain or even cancer because those are âcleanerâ problems that aren’t as taboo to talk about,â says Dr. Melissa Hunt, the author of Reclaim Your Life from IBS: A Scientifically Proven Plan for Relief without Restrictive Diets, a Philadelphia-based clinical psychologist, and faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania.
Additionally, since we live in a culture âwhich has a very ambivalent relationship with the body, as well as an avoidant relationship with vulnerability,â says San Francisco-based psychotherapist Marty L. Cooper, this can lead to shame and embarrassment, especially when itâs about something poop-related.
There are also legitimate fears when it comes to potential emergency situations. âThe biggest fear of many people with chronic GI disorders is that they’ll lose control of their bowels and actually have an accident,â says Dr. Hunt. âThis fear causes a lot of avoidance of social situations, even if the person has never actually experienced an episode of incontinence.â
How Can I Best Take Care Of Myself If I Have Ibs
IBS will likely be with you for life. But it doesnt shorten your lifespan, and you wont need surgery to treat it. To feel your best, try to identify and avoid your triggers, including certain foods, medications and stressful situations. A dietitian can help you plan a nutritious diet around your specific needs. Talk to your healthcare provider if symptoms dont improve.
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A Disorder In Disguise
Scarlett says shes had problems with her stomach for as long as she can remember. “I was always having either diarrhea or constipation and was constantly worried about being near a toilet,” she says. “Being a teenager is hard enough without that on top of it.”
Her first major IBS flare-up happened at 8 years old, when she was sent home from school on her birthday. “I was in so much pain and crying,” she says. Yet it wasnt until she was 14, following stressful exams, that she finally saw a doctor and got diagnosed.
According to the National Institutes of Health;, IBS is what doctors call a “functional gastrointestinal disorder,” or a collection of symptomsincluding pain in your gut and changes in your bowel movementsthat signify your bowels arent working correctly despite a lack of damage due to a disease. The exact cause is unknown.;
“I get bad stomach cramps and pain,” explains Scarlett. “It feels like something is stuck, like theres a knife inside my stomach. Its left me waking up in the middle of the night thinking I was dying because it was so painful.”
“Its a shame I kept my IBS in the dark for so long.”
Bloatingwhich Scarlett says feels like a giant basketball in her stomachis another common, aggravating symptom. “Sometimes I look five months pregnant,” she says. “I have to have so many dress sizes in my wardrobe, because if Im really bloated that way I dont have to wear uncomfortable clothes.”
Keep Your Head Up Highdo Not Internalize Criticism
Hopefully,;over time you will become more confident telling other people about your struggles with IBS. Although IBS may have turned your life upside down, it does not have to define you. You are a person with wonderful strengths and talents who just happens to have the misfortune of having dysfunctional bowels.
Be very careful not to internalize any negativity or criticism that you may receive from others. For some reason, probably an evolutionary one, our brains have the tendency to magnify negative feedback from others while minimizing compliments. Don’t let your brain get away with that!
Work hard to disregard unhelpful feedback from those ignorant people who have no idea what it takes to live a life that at a time seems to be ruled by bathroom issues. Instead surround yourself with positive, supportive people. If you find that those are hard to come by, enjoy the beauty of the Internet and look into joining an online IBS support group.
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