10 Ways To Make Living With IBS Easier

Whether you have been struggling with IBS for months or years or have only recently been diagnosed, there are various ways to make living with IBS easier.

Studies show that between 25 and 45 million people¹ in the United States live with IBS, with about two in three IBS patients being female. Although the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, most people suffering from the condition experience minor symptoms. For people with moderate to severe symptoms, IBS can disrupt daily life in various ways.

IBS symptoms range from abdominal pain to cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and constipation, and unfortunately, there is no cure. If you’re wondering how to live with IBS, know there are proven tips to help you manage your symptoms and enjoy day-to-day life.

Here are the ten proven lifestyle tips that make living with IBS easier.

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Pinpoint your IBS triggers

Since everyone reacts differently to IBS, getting to grips with your triggers is essential. Keeping a diary for a few weeks is highly recommended. Monitor your diet, exercise, bowel habits, and stress levels, including your IBS symptoms. This will give you a good idea of when symptoms typically appear, effectively revealing the various things that trigger them.

Talk to a healthcare provider

IBS has no direct cure, but the treatment focuses on symptom relief, primarily through specific lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication or therapy. Regular exercise, minimizing stress, eating smaller meals, and increasing your fiber intake are some effective home remedies for IBS. However, always be sure to consult your doctor and get their opinion first.

Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may suggest additional remedies. They might ask you to avoid certain foods or prescribe you IBS medication. If your IBS symptoms require specialist care, your primary care doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist or a nutritionist to advise you on dietary changes.

Get support

A supportive friend, co-worker, or family member who knows about your condition can be of great help. Having someone to support you besides your medical team can make life with IBS feel more normal and manageable.

For instance, it can help if a close friend or family member encourages and reminds you to avoid particular foods or other triggers. When you’re feeling unwell, it also helps if you have someone to fill in for you or run your errands. What’s more, hiding the condition from the people around you can be challenging; it’s better to be honest and seek the support you need.

Plan around the shortcomings

People suffering from IBS can usually manage their diet more efficiently at home than when they’re out and about or traveling. At home, you also have constant access to the bathroom.

When you do travel, think ahead. Book an aisle seat on public transport and research the nearest public restrooms so that you are prepared. When you’re away from home, it might be easier to avoid known dietary triggers altogether.

Consume good bacteria

IBS is a digestive issue, and consuming foods rich in good bacteria² may help to improve the health of your digestive tract. Some studies show that good bacteria may help to improve IBS symptoms. If you are considering taking probiotics, remember to consult your doctor or nutritionist first.

Create positive sleeping habits

IBS can make you feel tired, weak, and generally quite lousy. The symptoms can also make it challenging to get enough high-quality rest which negatively impacts physical and mental health.

Creating a good sleeping routine and sticking to it may help to make living with IBS easier. Figure out your preferred daily wake-up time and decide on a time to go to sleep. Try and keep to this routine, avoiding late-night distractions and heading to bed early. Avoid irregular naps where possible and try to exercise as much as possible to improve your sleep quality.

Prioritize your goals

If you have IBS, learn to prioritize your schedule and goals while maintaining flexibility. IBS is unpredictable, so bear this in mind when making plans. Try not to leave tasks until the last minute, as this will increase stress levels and risk you rushing to get things done during an IBS episode.

Avoid stress as much as possible

Emotional stress is directly linked to IBS symptoms, contributing to their severity and duration. It can also trigger flare-ups since your brain and gut interact through your nervous system. Easing your stress levels will help you to relax and avoid triggering IBS symptoms. There are lots of methods that can help you minimize stress, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and exercise.

Seek help if you have anxiety or depression

Studies³ show that mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression are linked to digestive tract problems such as IBS. These conditions are thought to trigger chemicals in the brain that cause a reaction in the digestive system, which can lead to changes in bowel movements and abdominal pain.

The severity of your anxiety or depression and their influence on your IBS may lead your doctor to prescribe specific medication, such as antidepressants, or recommend a therapy plan.

Change your diet

Changing your diet is among the most effective ways to make living with IBS easier since it provides relief against IBS symptoms and minimizes flare-ups.

No specific diet is recommended for all patients suffering from IBS since everyone responds to foods differently. The right diet for you would largely depend on your symptoms, as well as your reaction to certain foods.

It is suggested that you change what you eat for several weeks to see if your symptoms improve. For example, you might slowly add more fiber to your diet, avoid gluten, or reduce hard-to-digest carbohydrates also known as FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) foods.

It's best to talk to your healthcare provider before you make significant changes to your diet, and your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist. Eliminating foods without assistance can worsen symptoms or cause new issues if important food groups are omitted.

The lowdown

Living with IBS can seem daunting and challenging, especially if you have only recently been diagnosed with the condition. Avoiding stress-related situations and particular foods, getting support from a friend, co-worker, or family member, and consulting your doctor or gastroenterologist, can help you to manage your condition and get on with your life. With these tips, you can make life with IBS much easier and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

  1. Facts About IBS | International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD)

  2. List of Good Bacteria in Yogurt | Live Strong

  3. Stress, Anxiety, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome | WebMD

Have you considered clinical trials for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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