What is the Most Common Treatment for IBS?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 March 2020
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The most common treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is to change one’s diet to avoid foods which trigger symptoms. Most individuals who have IBS have specific food items which cause symptoms to get worse, and these are usually different for everyone. The best way to alleviate these symptoms is to avoid foods that irritate the digestive system and to only eat those that are soothing or neutral. Some patients may also be given prescription medications or may be instructed to take over the counter medications for when issues to occur.

Treatment for IBS may be slightly different for everyone. Since each person may have unique trigger foods, the dietary changes that are needed will vary. Common irritants in the diet include dairy, high fiber foods, and cruciferous vegetables. Many of these things are healthy and need to be consumed despite potential side effects, but there may be forms that can be more easily digested. For instance, those who react to dairy may be able to take an enzyme pill before consumption to avoid symptoms.


Most patients will be instructed to keep a food diary for one or more weeks before treatment for IBS can begin. They will start by eating a bland diet with easy to digest foods like toast and bananas. Slowly, one food group at a time can be added back to the diet. Patients will need to write down what is eaten each day, which symptoms occur, and which foods seem to cause the most problems.

Some people will need very little treatment for IBS symptoms and most foods will be tolerable, while others may have to adhere to a very strict diet with a limited number of food options. For these people, prescription medications may help to alleviate symptoms so that more dietary options are available. Heavily limiting foods due to IBS may cause malnutrition in some people.

Additional treatment for IBS may include regular exercise to allow smoother digestive function, drinking plenty of water to lubricate digested food, and taking over the counter medications to help alleviate symptoms during flare-ups. Common symptoms may include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of all these things.

If common treatment for IBS does not produce results, patients should see a physician to rule out the possibility of another illness. IBS can be misdiagnosed because there are many syndromes which have very similar symptoms. Conditions which may mimic irritable bowel syndrome include lactose intolerance, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.



Discuss this Article

Post 3

@Domido - Yes, it is absolutely depressing to have to monitor one's food intake all of the time. Just remember, there are some great benefits to be had from it! Perhaps as you see more and more results from the changes you make the easier the process will get.

But don't beat yourself up too badly! It is very difficult for people to give up the foods they love and you are not alone! While there are not any definitive ibs cures, there are many different roads you can take to help yourself. Diet is just one of them! As the article points out, exercising and staying hydrated are also really big helps!

Post 2

It can be very daunting to have to cut out so many foods that one likes to eat just to avoid severe stomach upset. If it were just ‘every once in awhile’ it would be okay, but for folks with ibs, this is an ‘all of the time’ thing. Any suggestions for helping people cope with this necessary ibs treatment? Truthfully, it can be downright depressing.

Post 1

Another great point to add is that fatty foods can be incredibly hurtful to the IBS sufferer. So avoiding fried foods in general is a great way to go. And, doing so has many other great and healthy side effects like lower cholesterol. Also, staying in regular contact with one’s family physician is important when making drastic changes to any diet, including the IBS diet.

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