How can I get IBS Relief?

Barbara Bean-Mellinger

The exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not definitively known, and seems to vary between sufferers. Therefore, obtaining IBS relief depends upon the individual and is usually accomplished only after trying different possible remedies. Typically suggested solutions that have helped others include changing the diet, increasing dietary fiber, reducing stress levels, and taking medication.

Medication can be for prescribed for IBS.
Medication can be for prescribed for IBS.

Dietary changes may include either adding or removing certain foods from the diet. Keeping a diet journal of all food that is eaten and noting when IBS occurs can help determine if foods may be the cause of the IBS. Foods that are common offenders are dairy products, fatty or fried foods, salads, raw vegetables—particularly gas producers such as broccoli and cauliflower—as well as chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks. These foods can be tested by eliminating one at a time to see if the IBS is lessened, rather than by eliminating all of them at once.

Bloating can be a symptom of IBS.
Bloating can be a symptom of IBS.

If the diet is low in fiber, adding foods that are high in fiber may help. Apples, kidney beans, and whole grain breads and cereals are some examples of high-fiber foods. Care should be taken to increase fiber slowly, however, so as not to make the IBS symptoms worse from a sudden rush of fiber going through the body. Another way to increase fiber is through psyllium supplements that are available over-the-counter and may be added to beverages.

Cauliflower can give a person gas.
Cauliflower can give a person gas.

The degree to which stress influences IBS is not officially known, but IBS sufferers do seem to experience more symptoms during times of increased anxiety. Some have reported IBS relief by taking steps to reduce their levels of stress. This can be done through lifestyle changes that reduce or eliminate the causes of excess stress, or by methods that relieve stress such as exercise or meditation.

Keeping a food journal might help to identify which foods are causing symptoms.
Keeping a food journal might help to identify which foods are causing symptoms.

Medications can bring IBS relief by treating the individual symptoms. Anti-diarrheal medications can help with flare-ups, while antacids can reduce the gas and bloating associated with IBS. Antidepressants have shown to relieve symptoms in people whose depression or nervousness may lead to their IBS. Antibiotics have had some success in bringing about IBS relief, but the reports are mixed. Drugs that have been developed solely to treat IBS may have serious side effects, and are recommended only when other remedies have failed to bring IBS relief.

In some patients, IBS is triggered by eating fatty foods.
In some patients, IBS is triggered by eating fatty foods.

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Discussion Comments

FreyaSpade

Another type of medication that can help manage pain associated with IBS is an antispasmodic. Reducing spasms in the colon can help manage pain, bloating, and bowel dysfunction associated with IBS. A product out there that is a combination antispasmodic therapy is Donnatal.

DantheMan

Another great IBS relief tip is using heat, or a heating pad of some sort. You can use a warming blanket or one of the over the counter air activated local heat pads, but a really effective way of doing it is a direct heating pad just be careful not to let the pad directly touch skin (have some fabric between you and it to prevent burns.)

dtortorelli

I think that the value of exercise in IBS treatment cannot be stressed enough here either, it is hard to think about getting out and exercising when you are uncomfortable and in pain, but there are a number of Yoga positions that help with IBS which are low impact and pain free.

Katzdad

I have tried a number of things to get relief from IBS and I have also found that bananas and papayas tend to have quite a high fiber count as well -- they always seem to work for me, at least!

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