Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a common gastrointestinal condition in which a person’s daily life is affected based on how his digestive system behaves. He may experience abdominal pain, bloating, painful bowel movements, or diarrhea. It is different than the Irritable Bowel Disease that causes inflammation or ulcers to the bowels.
Who Is At Risk Of IBS?
Some people are more prone to developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome than others. Although IBS can be found in people of all ages, here are some of the factors that can increase the risk:
- High levels of stress: People who undergo a lot of stress in their daily life are susceptible. Sexual or domestic abuse, traumatic life events, and mental disorders are also factors that can cause IBS.
- Food Sensitivities: Those with a very sensitive colon have trouble in their digestive system, and although foods such as dairy, nuts, fat, and meat are not causes of IBS, but can be triggers.
- Antibiotics and Antidepressants: People who consume high doses of antibiotics or antidepressants can make you prone.
- Hormonal Changes: While the immune system may react differently to stress and infection, these changes may trigger symptoms of IBS.
Signs and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Signs and symptoms of IBS are typically recurring, and if you have been diagnosed by your doctor, there are some coping mechanisms you can adopt to live a healthy life with IBS.
Educate Yourself About Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS can present a number of challenges in your daily life but manageable. Learn as much about your disorder as possible. The more you know about it, the more it will help you deal with it. Read books, articles, talk to your doctor, and know everything there is to your condition.
Track Your Diet And Your Reactions
Keeping a track of what you eat, and how your digestive system reacted with the intake, is another important step towards relieving pain caused by IBS. Journaling your symptoms, medications, reactions, and changes will not help you know your bodily functions better, but will also help your doctor is making changes to your medications and treatment, as and when deemed fit.
Talk Openly To Your Doctor And Family
It is important to understand that IBS is not a cancer and can never cause cancer, and there is no reason for you to deal with IBS by yourself. Seek help from your doctor, family, and friends, because they are your biggest support system. Be transparent about your pain or discomfort with your doctor, involve your family in the dietary changes suggested.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is a major contributing factor to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Stress management techniques and meditation are good ways to control the levels of stress you experience on a day-to-day basis. If you panic, it will only worsen your condition.
Prepare For Every Situation
Coping with Irritable Bowel Syndrome requires some patience and courage. Ensure you are prepared for any situation when you’re stepping out. Here are some of the things you should know beforehand:
- The nearest restroom when you go out, be it an event or a restaurant
- If going to a restaurant, stick to your diet and it is better to be familiar with the menu
- If at a theatre/concert/seminar, sit towards the aisle for easy access to the restroom
- Accept embarrassing situations and calmly let people know that you have a condition
Opt For Therapy
If you continue to face trouble coping with IBS, seek help. Psychotherapy, coupled with your medication, can help you overcome these changes with much ease. It is a part of what is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and involves relaxation therapy, hypnotherapy, and other methods to help you improve.
Add Exercise To Your Routine
Regular, gentle exercise as suggested by your doctor can relieve you to a large extent. It will not only help manage your stress and anxiety caused by IBS, but will also help in relieving the pain caused by it.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not a rare condition and can affect anybody. There are multiple coping mechanisms that you can explore to live with IBS. There is nothing to hide or be ashamed about, and it’s important you start living with your symptoms rather than letting them take charge of your life.