Exercise and some dietary changes are common choices for home remedies and natural cures of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or spastic colon. These ideas may be helpful enough for mild IBS, but for severe IBS you may need some medical interventions. Furthermore, the actually treatment that you need (including for the foods that you should eat and others that you need to avoid) is closely associated with the symptoms that occur.
The good news, this kind of digestive problem usually doesn’t lead to the permanent damage to the colon (one of crucial parts of the digestive system). Though many patients have it for chronic condition, but fortunately it is manageable condition. However, the symptoms that occur due to IBS can be very uncomfortable and very frustrating.
Since the exact cause of IBS is often not known in many cases, as written before the treatment is typically often focused on how to ease and treat the symptoms which then can help patient live as normally as possible.
Therefore, again the mild /moderate /or severity of the symptoms can significantly affect the treatment plan you need to take. For mild symptoms, lifestyle changes and a well-balanced diet (dietary changes) may be helpful enough. But your doctor can prescribe certain medicines or other appropriate treatments if you have severe irritable bowel syndrome.
Moreover, there may be no single formula of treatment that can work successfully for everyone with IBS. This is reasonable since:
- The exact symptoms that occur vary from patient to patient – though there are also some patients who report the same symptoms.
- The factors or conditions that trigger the symptoms of IBS also vary from patient to patient. The treatment is not only focused to the symptom but also focused to the cause that triggers the symptom. Once the trigger is known, doctor can decide the appropriate treatment that works best.
- The overall health of patient! For instance, if you also have other health problems associated with digestive system or other certain health conditions, the treatment plan may be modified to meet your body needs.
Some common drugs prescribed by doctor may include – according to Mayo Clinic:
- Over-the-counter medications for diarrhea. As the name suggests, it is purposed to ease and treat diarrhea symptom. One of common anti-diarrheal medicines is ‘Imodium’ or loperamide.
- Anticholinergic drugs! They are purposed to ease and treat painful bowel spasms (this symptom is often associated with activities of the autonomic nervous system). Anticholinergics may also help ease diarrhea, but they may make the constipation symptom get worse.
- Amitiza / Lubiprostone! It is only approved for adult women and men with constipation due to IBS, particularly for severe constipation when other treatments fail to work.
- Lotronex / Alosetron! Currently, it is only used for severe conditions of diarrhea-predominant IBS, particularly if the symptom doesn’t improve with other treatments. Since Alosetron can cause serious side effects, it must be prescribed by a gastroenterologist with some restrictions!
And according to WebMD, there are also some drugs that are still debatable because their potential side effects that can make the IBS symptoms get worse. Some of them are:
- Antidepressants! Pain from IBS symptoms can increase your risk of depression. For this reason, certain antidepressents (such as SSRI, tricyclic antidepressant, etc) may be used to control the risk of depression. Lower dose of tricyclic antidepressant may be prescribed if you don’t experience depression but have abdominal pain. But sometimes the use of certain antidepressants for IBS can cause constipation and often lead to drowsiness. So, make sure you consult with your GP /doctor first before taking any antidepressant to keep safe! You may also like to know more about the use of antidepressant for pregnant women with depression!
- Sometime antibiotics may also be prescribed by doctors if they believe that there is an overgrowth of bacteria that causes /worsen certain symptoms of IBS. However, the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat IBS symptoms is still debatable – more studies are required to confirm this issue clearly!
- Unlike antibiotics and antidepressants, most doctors agree that the use of drugs containing cough syrup or another sorbitol should be avoided for patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Ask a doctor for more advice!
In fact, there are a lot of patients with IBS find that their poor diet can prompt their IBS symptoms. In other words, it’s clear that making adjustments in the diet can help improve the symptoms.
And for ‘what you should eat’ and ‘what you should avoid’ is dependent on the symptoms that occur!
Record foods that you eat, and when you notice your IBS symptom flares up after eating certain food, then make sure you write it down to the list of foods you need to avoid!
In fact, different foods can affect each patient of irritable bowel syndrome in different ways. Some of them may develop bloating (excessive gas) and diarrhea after eating certain high-fiber foods or too much fiber, while others may don’t experience any change.
Some patients who have IBS also experience symptoms & signs similar to lactose intolerance with excessively gas. For this reason, doctors sometimes also recommend a trial of a lactose-free diet.
Furthermore, doctors also recommend a regular exercise and stress management to improve the symptom. It also can help promote good result for overall health.
For the cases of IBS with constipation, the following are some foods that should be avoided:
Some helpful home remedies for constipation due to irritable bowel syndrome may include:
- Keep hydrated – make sure you get plenty of fluid a day (about 8 glasses of water /day or make sure you have light or clear urine when you pee).
- Try with ground flaxseed! You can sprinkle it on cooked vegetables and salads.
- Full your diet with foods contains many sorbitol, however make sure you eat them in moderation! Prune juice and dried plums are some great choices of foods higher in sorbitol.
- Increase your fiber intake, but ensure you do it gradually! For instance, you can increase your fiber intake for about 2-3 grams /day until you get the regular consumption of fiber for about 20-35 grams /day. There are a lot of foods higher in fiber that you can explore. Beans, whole grain cereals & breads, fruits and vegetables are some excellent sources of high fiber.
- Ask your doctor whether you need to take some supplements, such as psyllium, corn fiber, Fibercon, and wheat bran (these supplements are commonly used to increase bowel movement).
Though these home remedies may help ease constipation symptom of IBS, but again make sure you do them in moderation. For instance, too much consumption of fiber may help relieve constipation but it may also trigger other signs of IBS (particularly such as cramping and gas).
Below is a table of some common foods and bad dietary habits that may worsen or trigger IBS-related diarrhea:
And the following are some helpful prevention tips:
- Avoid foods with too high and too low temperatures, particularly in the same meals. For instance, you should not eat steaming hot soup with ice-cold water.
- Larger portions of meal are bad, so avoid them. This bad dietary habit also can put you at greater chance of weight gain.
- Still, keep hydrated!
- It’s much better to avoid drinking with meals – drink water for about 1 hour before & after your meals!
- Foods higher in gas (such as cabbage, onions, and broccoli) should be restricted, because they can worsen diarrhea.
- Foods high in soluble fiber are recommended, but again make sure you consume them in moderation. Brown rice, dried fruits, whole wheat breads, and barley are some good sources of soluble fiber. These foods can add bulk to your colon and also can be helpful to prevent spasms.
- If you allergy to certain foods, discuss with a doctor for more advice!
We all agree that doing exercise regularly is important to keep fit and good for overall health. But does it works effectively to help relief symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?
If you are an inactive individual, start your exercise with some mild and moderate kind of workouts – then increase it gradually! And talk with your doctor first before starting your exercise if you have other health conditions!
All people can have stress and feeling of worry, at least once in a while. But if you have IBS, it’s important to cope with your stress and anxiety, because losing control of them can exacerbate the symptoms of IBS (such as stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, alternating constipation & diarrhea, and gas /bloating).
The following are some common ideas to control your stress in coping with your IBS symptoms:
- Get more activities that can make you fun – such as taking a walk, listening your favorite songs, reading, taking a vacation in the weekend, etc!
- Build a good relationship with others! This is not only helpful to keep motivated but also to get more conversion to release your stress.
- Keep close on healthy living, such having regular exercise and a well-balanced diet! Don’t forget also to get plenty of sleep (rest)!
- Take some complementary therapies if necessary, such as yoga, relaxation therapy, etc.
- Plan ahead of what you want to do! For instances, get to know the menu of a restaurant that you want to visit so thus you can choose the right foods. Don’t forget to map your route when driving, so thus you will know the locations of bathrooms. If you think your IBS can make you late for attending certain event or for work, you should get up earlier. And so on!
Are there any alternative treatments and therapies to treat irritable bowel syndrome? Yes, there are several choices (such as hypnosis, herbs, and acupuncture).