IBS treatment depends on the type, severity, and frequency of symptoms in a patient and how these symptoms affect their life. Generally speaking, there is no certain Irritable Bowel Syndrome treatment that can be given to every patient, since everyone needs a specially planned approach to treating the condition.
This article should guide you into learning everything you need to know about the symptoms and how you can work together with your doctor to find the best treatment for IBS. You need to be ready to adapt your lifestyle in the most fitting way that will reduce the symptoms and allow you to live a normal life.
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Treatment
There is no such thing as an irritable bowel syndrome cure, so if you were planning on taking medication and getting over with the symptoms, you cannot be more wrong. Actually, the first step in treating IBS involves specifying and watching your symptoms and bowel habits. When doing so, you should watch your diet and see how what you eat affects your condition. Additionally, you should check out how different daily activities, such as exercising or climbing the stairs, affect your symptoms. An IBS symptoms journal is the best way you can help your doctor determine the proper treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.
How to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
If you want to treat IBS, you should look at the symptoms. Generally speaking, if food is what makes your symptoms occur or worsen, doctors are most likely to give you the following tips on how to treat irritable bowel syndrome:
- Limit dairy products and fruits if you are experiencing diarrhea as the main symptoms
- Avoid fatty foods and artificial sweeteners
- Increase the consumption of fiber, especially if you are suffering from constipation
- Avoid uncooked cauliflower or broccoli and foods like cabbage and beans if you are having gas or abdomen bloating.
- If necessary, take medications that will reduce diarrhea, cramping, depression or constipation. However, do not take too many medications since this can worsen the symptoms and is bad for your health
- Exercise regularly to improve the quality of life and reduce these symptoms
- Quit smoking and avoid alcohol
In most cases, irritable bowel syndrome is a long-term problem that comes and goes in waves. Therefore, it is quite expected that there will be some grand changes in symptoms, their frequency, and even severity. If the condition is not treated, new symptoms may occur in combination with the existing ones, such as blood in the stool, severe fever, increased pain, and unexplained weight loss. In such cases, doctors often opt for checking a bit further before setting a diagnosis and IBS treatment.
Home Treatment for IBS
The majority of IBS cases can treat the condition with home treatment only. Careful attention to stress management, a well-set diet, and regular exercise is known to be the best treatment for keeping the symptoms under control in the majority of people suffering from this condition.
1. Good Diet
Many of the IBS patients complain of worsening of symptoms after consuming certain foods. There are some cases where eating anything in general triggers symptoms and this must be approached differently, but for most people, there is usually a certain type or types of foods that trigger the symptoms.
If you are suffering from constipation, an increased dosage of fiber in the diet can help control this. Such foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread, wheat bran, and cereals. Still, if you do not want to or have trouble consuming fiber through food, you can always take a fiber supplement.
Additionally, it is highly recommended that you avoid gas-producing foods, caffeine, and alcohol if you are experiencing bloating or gas.
2. Regular Exercise
Exercising regularly is known to reduce the IBS symptoms and improve the quality of life in terms of energy, quality of sleep, and emotional health. This does not necessarily need to be hard. If you are an IBS patient, 20 to 60 minutes every second day is quite enough. And this does not have to be the gym – you can enjoy activities such as cycling, jogging, swimming and even walking.
3. Stress Management
There are many people to whom stress causes IBS symptoms. If you are one of these people, you can:
- Keep a diary of life events that happened before the occurrence of your symptoms in order to clarify the connection between occasions and symptoms. After you have this written down, you can determine what causes your stress and therefore, your symptoms.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress
- Take some medications if necessary, if recommended by your doctor
- Find a support group where you can share your experiences and problems
- Find a good psychiatrist or psychologist
- Use hypnosis, counseling or biofeedback to cope with stress
Coping with stress is different for every individual, so which type of help you will choose is up to you.
Medication for IBS
In addition to lifestyle changes, you can manage your IBS symptoms with the help of medications too, as long as they are recommended or prescribed by a health professional. Such medications are usually prescribed to treat diarrhea, constipation, or pain that does not respond to the home treatments a patient has tried out.
In such cases, medicine is necessary to help the patient relieve the symptoms and prevent them from affecting everyday life. In many cases, completely eliminating the symptoms is not possible.
As you already know, every medicine has its own side effects, but there are still a few that have proven to be extremely helpful in IBS cases. However, what medication you will take will depend on your condition and symptoms.
Also, if you have an underlying or coexisting condition aside from IBS, you will need to take medications to treat that illness too. It so often happens that the symptoms of IBS worsen because of other conditions.
- Diarrhea Medications
When diarrhea does not improve with home treatment, people may opt for some medicines like antidiarrheals (that include diphenoxylate and atropine), bile acid-binding agents, Rifaximin and Alosetron.
- Constipation Medications
When constipation is severe and does not improve with other treatments, there are certain constipation medications patients should take. The majority of these are available over the counter and are recommended to be consumed for a little while, as long as the doctor agrees on it. Such medicines include Polyethylene glycol, osmotic laxatives, stimulant laxatives, Linaclotide and Lubiprostone.
- Cramping and Pain Medications
If the patient is experiencing long-term pain or cramping, they may use antidepressants and anticholinergics.
- Depression Medications
If you are suffering from depression and anxiety because of IBS, you may use antidepressants and antianxiety agents.
Psychological IBS Treatment
There are certain kinds of psychological treatments known to relieve IBS symptoms and even completely remove them from the lives of patients. Such treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and psychotherapy.
1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
IBS symptoms are known to stop when people start thinking positively with the help of CBT. People who have practiced positive thinking with this therapy have reported that their IBS symptoms and anxiety has reduced greatly.
Hypnosis is becoming more and more widely used now because of its great success in terms of anxiety and stress-reducing. People who have IBS have reported that hypnosis helps them relieve IBS symptoms.
Both psychotherapy and psychological therapy are known to help IBS patients in reducing their symptoms.
Aside from these three, people with IBS often benefit from other psychological treatments such as meditation, relaxation therapy, and biofeedback.
Complementary IBS Treatment
Even with the advance in medicine and home treatment, there are still plenty of patients who still struggle with their IBS symptoms. This is why people often opt for alternative or complementary IBS treatment, such as:
- Herbal therapies like Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurvedic medicine
- Peppermint oil for cramping
- Aloe Vera for constipation
- Ginger for nausea
Overall, the treatment of IBS depends on the patient’s condition and their symptoms.