There is no cure for IBS. But, many people are able to control their symptoms with lifestyle modifications, stress management, and medicines. Treatment tends to focus on managing the condition by reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms.
IBS can disrupt your life. It is very stressful to worry about having poor bowel control. Also, emotional stress is strongly linked to worsening of symptoms.
Consider counseling or others methods of reducing your stress. These include:
Learn as much as you can about IBS and ways that you can reduce your symptoms. You may also find it helpful to join a support group where you can gain information and share your experiences.
What you eat plays a major role in treating your IBS. The first consideration is adequate nutrition. Because you may decide to avoid certain foods because they cause symptoms, make sure you are not missing out on essential nutrients. For example, if you avoid dairy products, it may be difficult to meet your calcium needs. You may need to take a calcium supplement. A registered dietitian can help you determine if your diet is complete and how best to supplement it.
There are some foods more likely to cause symptoms in people with IBS. However, reactions to foods are very individualized, and you may find that foods other than those listed here also cause symptoms.
Here are some tips:
A working relationship with your doctor is critical to effective treatment. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable and stay in regular contact. Be sure to report any new symptoms or significant worsening of others.
American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: http://www.acg.gi.org. Accessed March 3, 2006.
American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org. Accessed March 3, 2006.
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.fascrs.org. Accessed March 3, 2006.
Fauci AS, Braunwald E, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2000.
7/16/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Dorn SD. Systematic review: self-management support interventions for irritable bowel syndrome. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 May 22. [Epub ahead of print]
4/22/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Johannesson E, Simrén M, et al. Physical activity improves symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan 4. [Epub ahead of print]
Last reviewed October 2012 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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