Looking To The Future
You can permanently cure IBS by addressing the underlying cause. Here at PrimeHealth, our patients prove this is true.
10-year IBS patients have come through our door. Nothing worked for them. Then, we identified the root cause and prescribed a relatively short-term treatment for that issue. Within a few months, this 10-year affliction that mainstream doctors couldnt fix had disappeared.
If you live in the greater Denver area, to learn about our science-based approach to treating IBS. Or schedule a free phone consultation with us today from anywhere in the world!
Medically reviewed by Soyona Rafatjah, MD. on August 15, 2020
How To Improve Your Work Life With Ibs
Working with IBS can be difficult, but there are several ways you make working with IBS symptoms easier on your and your workplace.
To manage IBS at work, consider the following strategies:
- Get up early: Allow enough time for breakfast and your toilet routine before leaving for work.
- Don’t keep your IBS a secret: As the saying goes, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Tell the right people at work about your symptoms and explain how you may need specific accommodations . If needed, ask your GP to write you a letter explaining your condition and how it impacts your life. Don’t be afraid of over-sharing: IBS is a health condition, you are advocating for yourself!
- Bring your lunch to work: Avoid eating on the run or consuming shared office meals that might contain your trigger foods.
- Keep hydrated and limit your caffeine intake: Coffee, as you may know, is a common IBS trigger for many people.
- Find an âIBS Buddyâ: Let a close colleague at work know about your condition so that they can support you if you need to leave early or step out of a meeting.
- Reduce stress: Try and implement a few stress-relieving activities into your daily routine, such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
How Does Ibs Symptoms Influence Your Work
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS will not only affect your productivity at work place, it can even dictate what kind of work you do if allowed. Tim Phelan, who authored the book Romance, Riches and Restrooms, graduated from the college and embarked on a very thrilling career and was prepared to be successful. A few months after he graduated, he was surrounded by people whom he wanted to impress at one very important luncheon. But within the luncheon setting he felt a sudden sign of irritable bowel syndrome. He felt a strong urge of going to the restroom and the symptoms kept getting worse.
Tim Phelan says that this made him change his career option. The job that he wanted involved so much traveling through subways by trains as well as business meetings. All these things would have escalated the symptoms. So, he had options to get other corporate jobs or stay there. But he instead went for waiting tables as he trained to be a professional triathlete.
The work he opted for accommodated his IBS or irritable bowel syndrome problem but did not pay well. He later went for another work in financial industry and he got a promotion. The promotion came along with conference calls, traveling and long meetings. Tim Phelan finally lost this job due to his IBS problem because he was reluctant to travel.
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Six Working With Ibs Coping Techniques
Frequent trips to the bathroom with IBS can be overwhelming, but there are plenty of working with IBS coping techniques and strategies you can implement into your working life today.
Develop a Daily Schedule
Getting into a routine of eating, hydration, and visiting the bathroom can help your body process food more effectively.
Consider developing a togetherness system where you calendar out your tasks and meetings. Having a visual schedule, whether digital or on paper, will help you see where you regularly have time for meals and bathroom breaks.
Making a schedule for yourself can also help reduce stress, which tends to aggravate IBS symptoms. Knowing whats on your plate, as well as when you can accomplish it, will help you feel empowered to complete your tasks with reduced stress.
Plan Meals and Snacks for Work
Many people with IBS have food intolerances that worsen their symptoms. To make sure that you dont end up eating something out of the vending machines, try meal prep.
Meal prep involves preparing all of your lunches and snacks before the work week begins. This way, if your week gets busy, you wake up late or something unexpected comes up one evening, you can rest easy knowing that your lunch is ready for the next day.
Take a Lunch Break
Make an IBS Relief Kit
One way to give yourself peace of mind about working with IBS is to keep an IBS relief kit in your desk or work bag.
Some items you might want to keep in your IBS relief kit are:
Maintain A Regular Schedule
Your reality is that you have a digestive system that is highly reactive. This means that you have to treat it with kid gloves. Make sure you maintain regular sleep and eating habits, aiming for regularly timed, small meals to avoid strengthening the gastrocolic reflex which can lead to stronger abdominal cramps.
If constipation is your predominant symptom, allow time every morning for a relaxed trip to the bathroom, even if this means you have to get up a little earlier. If diarrhea is your predominant symptom, you will be glad for that extra time!
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What Are Ibs Symptoms
- Excess gas.
- Mucus in your poop .
Women with IBS may find that symptoms flare up during their periods. These symptoms often happen again and again, which can make you feel stressed or upset. As you learn management techniques and gain control over flare-ups, youll start to feel better, physically and mentally.
How Is The Pain Experienced
In IBS, some signals in the gut are experienced in some brain regions as pain. After the brain receives pain signals, it can modify the signals to increase or reduce the feeling of pain.
The brains ability to modify sensations is called the gate control theory of pain. Signals that travel from the body to the brain pass through the spinal cord, which can serve as a kind of gate. The brain can open and close this gate, like a volume switch on a stereo. Opening the gate increases the signals that reach the brain and increases the feeling of pain. Closing the gate decreases signals and blocks pain.
This explains how a person can sprain an ankle while running a race and not feel pain until the race is over. Or, how during a bad day at work, a minor discomfort can feel really painful all because the spinal cord acts as a gate to modify how much pain in the brain feels.
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How Can I Control Ibs
It may be frustrating trying to get a handle on IBS. Treatment can often be trial and error. But the good news is that nearly everyone with IBS can find a treatment that helps them.
Usually, diet and activity changes improve symptoms over time. You may need some patience as you figure out your triggers so you can take steps to avoid them. But after a few weeks or months, you should notice significant improvement in how you feel. A nutritionist can help you plan a healthy, filling diet that meets your needs.
Prepare For A Possible Ibs Attack At Work
Despite all the precautions you may take, accidents can still happen. It’s good to carry an emergency IBS kit with you to work, so if anything does happen, you will be ready for it.
Depending on your predominant IBS subtype , what you pack will be unique to you, however, some good ideas for an emergency kit include:
- Spare underwear/clothing
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You May Want To Ask Your Doctor:
- What do you think is causing my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my condition?
- What diagnostic tests do I need?
- Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What treatment approach do you recommend trying first?
- If the first treatment doesnt work, what will we try next?
- Are there any side effects associated with these treatments?
Tell The Right People
Once you get to work, things can be just as challenging. Few jobs offer the luxury of uninterrupted private access to a bathroom. Many jobs require sitting in meetings. Some jobs require travel. All of these activities that people without IBS take for granted can be minefields of stress for those with unreliable digestive systems.
Keeping your IBS a secret may end up being so stressful that it actually makes your symptoms worse. The key to telling others about your IBS is to choose the person you confide in wisely. If your company offers confidential counseling through an employee assistance program or human resources department, make an appointment to find out what work modifications may be available to you.
Depending on their trustworthiness, consider telling your immediate supervisor about your IBS. This may help your boss to be more understanding of your need to take sick time or your reluctance to take on stressful responsibilities, such as those that involve travel or public speaking. Similarly, make a careful choice and confide in trustworthy co-workers. If they know what you are dealing with, they may be willing to cover your responsibilities should you need to take a break or use the restroom for an extended period of time.
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Diagnosis And Management Of Ibs In Adults
THAD WILKINS, MD CHRISTA PEPITONE, MD BIJU ALEX, MD and ROBERT R. SCHADE, MD, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, Georgia
Am Fam Physician. 2012 Sep 1 86:419-426.
Irritable bowel syndrome is defined as abdominal discomfort or pain associated with altered bowel habits for at least three days per month in the previous three months, with the absence of organic disease. In North America, the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome is 5 to 10 percent with peak prevalence from 20 to 39 years of age. Abdominal pain is the most common symptom and often is described as a cramping sensation. The absence of abdominal pain essentially excludes irritable bowel syndrome. Other common symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, or alternating diarrhea and constipation. The goals of treatment are symptom relief and improved quality of life. Exercise, antibiotics, antispasmodics, peppermint oil, and probiotics appear to improve symptoms. Over-the-counter laxatives and antidiarrheals may improve stool frequency but not pain. Treatment with antidepressants and psychological therapies are also effective for improving symptoms compared with usual care. Lubiprostone is effective for the treatment of constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome, and alosetron and tegaserod are approved for patients with severe symptoms in whom conventional therapy has been ineffective.
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The absence of abdominal pain can be used to rule out IBS.
Some Symptoms To Look Out For:
BS, unfortunately, does not get the recognition and awareness that it deserves, especially since up to 20% of the general population is affected by this chronic illness at any given time. Some symptoms to look out for:
- Abdominal pain : IBS pain can be felt anywhere throughout the abdomen. Each bout of pain can vary in length and severity, and pain may increase and decrease over time. IBS pain is often relieved following a bowel movement.
- Constipation:Symptoms of constipation can include passing three or fewer stools in one week, passing hard, dry stools, the passage of only small amounts of stool, and frequent straining during a bowel movement.
- Diarrhea:Symptoms of diarrhea can include passing stool three or more times per day, passing loose, watery stools or feeling an urgent need to have a bowel movement.
- Motility :Normally, waves of coordinated intestinal muscle contractions or too slowly .
- Sensitivity :The network of nerves surrounding the digestive organs may become unusually sensitive. For some people with IBS, even a small change in intestinal activity can trigger the nerves to send messages to the brain causing abdominal pain.
- Brain-gut dysfunction:In IBS, there may be problems in how the brain receives and processes sensations coming from the intestines. A malfunction may occur along the many different pathways that connect the brain and gut, interfering with the normal function of the intestines.
Other IBS symptoms may include:
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Find A Waist That Suits You
Bottoms typically have a high, mid, or low-rise waist. The rise type will be dependent on your waist, belly, and bloating. Ultimately, your rise type is whatever is most comfortable, not the most stylish. â
You’ll have to try different waist types to figure out which is most comfortable for you. Especially make sure your pants are comfortable when you’re sitting and moving. Your pants should be comfortable at all times.
Dietary Changes For Ibs
Food intolerances have been linked toIBS symptoms for many years, however conflicting information often createsconfusion and frustration as to what foods IBS patients should include, oravoid, in their diet. Managing IBS often takes a combination of approaches, aseach person may be different. Below are some proactive strategies and treatmentoptions that can help you live your best life!
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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.
Putting It All Together
- Brain imaging shows that people with IBS feel more pain than other people
- Sensations travel from the gut through the spinal column to the brain where they are felt as pain.
- The brain can modify the sensation of pain, either increasing or decreasing it
- Therapy and medications can help reduce or prevent the pain from IBS
- Strong painkillers like opioids should not be used for pain in IBS in fact, they might increase pain.
- Neurogastroenterologists or primary care doctors who know how to work with chronic pain are the best to help treat IBS pain
Adapted from IFFGD Publication #274 Understanding and Managing Pain in IBS by Douglas A. Drossman, M.D., Center for Education and Practice of Biopsychosocial Care, Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders at UNC, and Drossman Gastroenterology, Chapel Hill, NC. Adapted by Abigale Miller
For healthcare providersHere is a video of a presentation by Douglas A. Drossman delivered at the UCLA GI Week 2016 on the topic, State of the Art Lecture: Understanding and Management of Patients with Chronic Abdominal Pain and Narcotic Bowel Syndrome.
AcknowledgmentWe are grateful to The Allergan Foundation for a health and human services educational grant in support of this publication.
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Try Exercise To Regulate Bowel Function
Adding exercise to your management plan can provide significant IBS relief and improve your general health plus, when done right, it has few side effects . On the physical level, exercise regulates bowel functioning. It stimulates the digestive process, triggering peristalsis, which can be particularly helpful if constipation is your main symptom.
In one study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers reported that study participants who were physically active had noticeably improved GI symptoms compared with the participants who did not exercise. The researchers then followed up with study participants a few years later. The results, published in January 2015 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, found that those who had continued exercising experienced positive long-term effects on their IBS symptoms.
A 2018 study published in the journal PLoS One yielded similar results. Researchers surveyed more than 4,700 adults on their gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS, and physical activity levels. The study concluded that less active people were more likely to have IBS than those who exercised.
In addition, exercise can reduce stress and generate a sense of well-being. Yoga in particular may be helpful with this. A study published in December 2015 in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine found that doing yoga for one hour three times a week for 12 weeks improved symptoms and overall quality of life for IBS patients.
Stop Going To Unsympathetic Healthcare Providers
Sadly, there are healthcare providers out there who have terrible bedside manners. IBS is a functional disorder and some healthcare providers have difficulty treating IBS patients with patience and empathy. However, the quality of the healthcare provider-patient relationship may influence how well or poorly you feel.
Whenever possible, be an educated consumer and choose your healthcare provider carefully. You might consider changing healthcare providers if yours does any of the following:
- Blames your symptoms only on psychological factors and stress
- Treats you as if you are exaggerating your distress
- Makes you feel like a drug addict because you are seeking pain relief
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What About Special Occasions
You can use the above guidelines for formal clothing, too. Search for styles that fit your frame and can accommodate extra bloating.â
Formal jumpsuits and dresses can be a bit impractical when it comes to bathroom trips. Instead, consider styles that are low-fuss when it comes to using the bathroom. Formal events can be stressful, and you don’t want to get caught up with your clothes during a flare-up.
What Causes Ibs With Constipation
The cause of IBS-C is not yet known however,there are a variety of factors that may contribute to the disorder. Theseinclude:
- Intestinal motility: The walls of the intestines are lined with layers ofmuscles that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food fromyour stomach to your intestines through a process called peristalsis. For thosewith IBS-C, contractions within the intestine may be reduced or delayed causinggas, bloating and stool to move slower than normal.
- Nerve Hyper-Sensitivity: Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the gutcan make your body overreact to the activities taking place during digestioncausing increased sensitivity. This may explain why those with IBS-C experienceabdominal pain and discomfort. Excess fluid absorption: Constipation resultswhen the intestine absorbs too much fluid from the stool, which can occurbecause of reduced or delayed contractions. Brain-bowel connection: There is astrong connection between our brain and bowel. This is sometimes called thebrain-gut connection. In individuals with IBS-C, a possible disconnect ormiscommunication between the mind and gut, may impact motility, painsensitivity and fluid absorption. This disconnect may result in abdominal pain,discomfort and constipation.
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