Living with IBS
Looking at all these IBS symptoms in black and white can make for pretty depressing reading. Nobody would choose to live with even one of these painful, embarrassing problems so a whole collection of them can seem daunting in the extreme.
But please don’t despair if you’re a fellow IBS sufferer. This is a comprehensive list of symptoms, but it’s very unlikely that you’ll experience them all. The nature of IBS means that you may have some tough times, but it’s also likely like that you’ll get periods of remission as well when you can recover and regroup.
While there isn’t a set treatment plan for this illness, there are a number of ways the IBS symptoms can be controlled and contained. With a little time and trial and error, you can find the medications that help you, whether that’s over-the-counter remedies like Imodium or milk of magnesia or the drugs developed specifically for IBS such as Linzess for constipation-predominant IBS.
Change in Diet
Many people find relief through a change in diet, and a registered dietitian can help you discover what regime works best for you. This could involve excluding certain groups of foods (dairy or wheat-based foods, for example) or following a special diet like the FODMAPs diet which was developed by Australian researchers specifically to help IBS patients.
Use Fiber Supplements
Fiber supplements like Citrucel and Metamucil are used widely by both diarrhea and constipation sufferers to calm over-active bowels or make stools easier to pass.
Many people learn to use natural supplements like magnesium or calcium to either slow or speed up their digestion or use good quality probiotics to tackle stomach pain and bloating.
Deal With Stress
If stress is a key trigger for your symptoms, then gut-directed hypnotherapy can be a good option as it is so calming and relaxing.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can tackle any bad habits or harmful coping strategies you maybe be using, and the more ordinary style of psychotherapy will help anyone whose IBS has been made worse by traumatic life experiences.
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture may come in handy, and yoga can help to give stomach muscles a good workout and get things moving.
Being honest about your problems can also go a long way towards making your life easier. Many people go to great lengths to hide their bowel problems because the thought of talking about them is so mortifying, but this approach leaves you suffering alone and trying to pretend that IBS is no big deal.
Once you start opening up about your struggles you will often find someone who has similar issues or is at least sympathetic to those who do. There are plenty of online communities available where you can be brutally honest about what you’re going through, and no-one will bat an eyelid.
You absolutely deserve support as you fight against this illness, but if you never tell your boss or your family what you are going through, they can never help. Remember – everybody poops!
Don't Give Up
There’s no doubt that IBS is taken far more seriously by medical professionals than it used to be and there are far more treatment options available in the 21st century than there used to be too.
Gone are the days when IBS sufferers were sent straight home by their doctors and told to learn to live with it – there really is help and support available for everyone who’s struggling with an irritable bowel.