Managing the Symptoms of IBS

If you’re suffering from the pain and discomfort of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 10 percent of Americans deal with the condition, but only half of that population seek assistance from their physician. Melissa Diener, M.D., a gastroenterologist with Inspira Medical Group, offers the following recommendations on ways to manage the symptoms of IBS.


Symptoms of IBS include alternating constipation and urgency, bloating, cramping, fatigue, gas and diarrhea. The condition also contributes to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.


IBS is categorized into three groups based on your most prominent symptom. Those categories include IBS with constipation, IBS with diarrhea and mixed IBS. Mixed IBS incorporates both symptoms, making it the most difficult to treat.


Research hasn’t yet confirmed the exact cause of IBS due to its wide array of symptoms and triggers; however, evidence suggests that the microbiome and bacteria of the stomach may have an outsized effect on your risk of developing the condition.


Additionally, Dr. Diener states, “Often times, IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, rather than of a specific condition. Meaning, the discernible symptoms allow us to rule out other conditions, ensuring that it is, in fact, IBS.”


Here are three tips for managing the symptoms of IBS.


Know Your Triggers

For many people with IBS, food choice can be a trigger for symptoms. However, stress and tension can also cause or worsen a flare-up. Being aware of the non-dietary factors that impact your body can help you avoid future events, or take to the offense more quickly.


Mind-body therapy options like yoga have been proven to impact symptoms and reduce stress, as well as the use of essential oils like peppermint.


Be Open with Your Doctor

In many cases, the most effective treatments for moderate IBS includes combining lifestyle changes with pharmaceutical treatment. The best way to find this balance is through an open and honest conversation with your doctor, because even embarrassing or seemingly insignificant details may be helpful for diagnosis.


There are dozens of pharmaceutical treatment options available to IBS patients, and with a full understanding of your symptoms, other health issues and family history, your doctor can choose the best option for you. 


Plan Your Meals

Though seeking help from your physician is best for the long-term management of IBS, there are ways to manage food-related flare-ups with planned meals.


One of the most common dietary triggers is a type of carbohydrate called Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, or FODMAP. These carbohydrates are found in wheat, beans and some fruits. Avoiding high-FODMAP foods can be helpful in managing IBS symptoms.


Smaller, easier to digest meals can also reduce symptoms, as well as low-fat and low-gluten diets.  Limiting your exposure to caffeine may also have an impact.


If you are struggling with the effects of IBS or other kind of Gastrointestinal disorder and need help getting your symptoms under control, call the Gastroenterology specialists at Inspira Medical Group at 1-800-INSPIRA.