In its simplest definition, “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” is a chronic disease characterized by chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and abnormal bowel movements. This is seen in approximately 15% of the world’s population. In addition, symptoms directly related to the excretory system, such as constipation and diarrhea, are frequently encountered in patients with IBS. This disease, which can affect people of all ages and genders equally, is more common in young women and in the population under 40 years of age. In addition, people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome in their family and have a history of depression, anxiety, sexual abuse are also in the risk group. This person having this syndrome may feel very uncomfortable, but this syndrome does not cause permanent damage to the intestines or cause cancer. In some cases, people who have irritable bowel syndrome, do not show any symptoms for a very long time, or with regular follow-up appointments, this disease can be stopped . In order to cope with IBS, one can learn to cope with the disease by changing some of their habits. Although there is no clear cure for IBS, we have compiled a few tips to ease your symptoms and help you live more comfortably:
- Identify trigger foods with a “food diary”
For people struggling with irritable bowel syndrome, keeping track of the food they eat and taking note of what they experience after each meal is an important move to reveal food-related symptoms. In addition, in order to see all the symptoms from a wider window, taking note of the times, types and amounts of meals will be an important clue to predict exactly when the related pain will start.
- Do exercise
Heavy cardio or fast-paced jogging may not be good for you. However, low-intensity sports that you will do regularly will be very good for your digestive system. These exercises help to relax and evacuate more easily by causing movement in the intestines.
- Increase your fiber consumption
Although many patients think that fiber will make the intestines worse, natural dietary fiber, especially found in fruits, vegetables and grains, is necessary for the intestines to function at an optimum level. In particular, soluble fibers found in foods such as oats, peas, and apples can be good for you at this point. But it is important that you increase your fiber intake gradually, not all at once. Because sudden fiber consumption can deform the gastrointestinal tract.
- Remove certain foods from your life
The most important thing to do in order to manage irritable bowel syndrome is to pay attention to the foods consumed. While it’s unclear whether food has a direct link to contractions, more painful contractions can be experienced after certain foods. At this point, these pains can be controlled with a personalized diet. For example, if you are experiencing frequent and severe bloating, you may need to avoid carbonated drinks, raw fruits or some gas-producing vegetables such as cauliflower.
- Give room for some warmth and tea
Stomach pain and cramps are caused by a small amount of gas in the stomach or by the movements of the intestines themselves. People with irritable bowel syndrome have much more sensitive nerves here, so they feel pain faster and more intensely. Applying a hot water bag at these moments will relieve the aching area. Apart from this, a hot tea that you will drink when you feel severe pain will relieve you psychologically. In addition, mint, fennel or anise tea, which will relax your digestive system, can be your savior in these moments.
- Get support on other issues that may affect your IBS
“Stress”, one of the most important triggers of irritable bowel syndrome, has a great impact on daily life. If you can manage your stress, you can go a long way in dealing with your IBS. At this point, it will be good for you to reduce your stress by exercising, meditating or just listening to music. But when you realize that you cannot manage this stress, you should not hesitate to get support from a mental health professional. Therapies proven to be effective in managing stress can raise your pain threshold or teach you how to deal with stress.
If you think you can benefit from professional support on this issue, you can book an appointment here.
Ezgi Nur Budak has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and she is an intern at Health Clinic of Willingness.
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Bolen, B., (2021). 10 tips for IBS pain reief that anyone can do. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/top-ibs-relief-tips-1945358
Tillisch, K., (). Irritable bowel syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.healthywomen.org/condition/irritable-bowel-syndrome/overview