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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help

by Janey Lewis
  • Overview

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is an intestinal disorder with a host of symptoms. IBS can cause diarrhea or constipation, and sometimes both. IBS can also be responsible for painful cramping, gas, mucus in the stools and bloating. If you suffer from IBS, you may find you often feel rushed to have a bowel movement, since this can sometimes alleviate symptoms. Your doctor will help you manage IBS with prescription medications, but there are several things you can do to cope with this disorder.
  • Diet

    Staying on the proper diet can help with IBS. You'll have to experiment to find which foods make the problem worse. Chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, cabbage, beans, broccoli, cauliflower and any fatty food can all exaggerate IBS symptoms. It's also important to eat smaller meals more frequently rather than a couple of large meals each day. Fiber is controversial in the IBS diet. While it helps with constipation, it can also increase cramping and gas. Try gradually adding in more fiber to your diet over several weeks. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of fiber. For some IBS patients, a fiber supplement works better than adding fiber with food, since the supplements don't increase gas and bloating.
  • Exercise

    Try a regular exercise program to help with the constipation and bloating that often accompany IBS. In a 2008 study, Dr. Amanda Daley monitored two groups of IBS patients. The first group did their usual care for IBS symptoms, while the second group exercised for 30 minutes five days a week. The patients also met with exercise experts to develop their exercise skills and confidence. After 12 weeks, the group who exercised said they had had a considerable decrease in constipation.
  • Stress Management

    Although irritable bowel syndrome is not a fatal illness, it can have a significant effect on the quality of your life. Many of the symptoms are embarrassing and painful. Living with a chronic disease, such as IBS, can add to your stress level. You may find your symptoms getting worse during times you're under an unusually high amount of stress. It's important to take control of your illness. Learn as much as you can about it, and find other people who suffer from it. If there's not a support group in your community, you can find one on the Web. Being able to talk to others who understand your illness can make a real difference in your stress level.
  • Herbs

    Some IBS patients take peppermint to help with symptoms. Peppermint is an herb that relaxes spastic muscles. However, peppermint can cause heartburn, which is one of the problems associated with IBS. Since herbs can interact with prescription medications, be sure to check with you doctor before trying them.

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