How Do You Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is more common than people think. According to aboutIBS.org, IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. Of the people who have IBS, two out of three people are female. While some people with IBS might experience mild symptoms, others might find their symptoms inconvenient for daily life. Luckily, there are different types of treatments to help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms that come with IBS.
What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that occurs in the colon or large intestine. IBS produces symptoms in the intestines as often as three days a week for at least three months. Common symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal pain
What types of treatment are available?
While there is no cure for IBS itself, there are several ways to treat IBS symptoms. These treatments can range from lifestyle changes to cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s important to contact your primary care physician if you are experiencing these symptoms frequently. They will be able to assess your situation and provide you with the best treatment plan.
- Lifestyle changes: Being mindful of your diet is often the best way to relieve your symptoms. If you experience diarrhea, it is best to limit your caffeine consumption or foods high in fat as they stimulate colonic contractions. Limiting foods that contain dairy can help with gas, while limiting carbohydrates can help with abdominal pain. Making an appointment with a registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan that’s right for you.
- Medication: If changing your diet hasn’t helped, your doctor might suggest medication as the next step. Your doctor may prescribe you a medication based on the predominant symptom you are experiencing. Some medicines might help control intestinal spasms, diarrhea or constipation. Antibiotics can help change the composition of the bacteria in your gut to help with the digestion of carbohydrates. A low-dose antidepressant may also be prescribed to help regulate the gut’s nervous system reaction to a particular food. As always, it’s essential to inform your doctor of any medications you are currently taking.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Stress and anxiety are often linked with the worsening of IBS symptoms. Treating the cause of stress can often lead to relief for the frequency and severity of symptoms. A mental health professional can help you identify and work through problems to relieve emotional stress.
Irritable bowel syndrome can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about. However, if you are experiencing frequent and painful intestinal symptoms, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
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