Are you suffering from frequent gas, diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain? You may be experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or spastic colon. The cause of this intestinal disorder is still unknown, but thankfully, you can manage your symptoms. Here are a few steps to take to start feeling better.
Seek Out a Gastroenterologist
A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in diseases of the digestive tract. It's important to seek one out to rule out any other possible causes of your distress, like Celiac or Crohn's disease. If you get the diagnosis of IBS, your gastroenterologist can help you make a plan to manage your diet and stress levels. He or she can prescribe medications like the following:
- antispasmodics, which can relieve cramps or stomach spasms.
- laxatives, which can loosen your stools and relieve constipation.
- dietary supplements, which can help you deal with any malnutrition.
- nerve pain analgesics, which help with painful bloating and stretched colon walls.
- antibiotics, which can help to eliminate bad gut bacteria.
Although medications can greatly help, your next step is to assess your diet.
Start Keeping Track of Your Diet
Your doctor may want you to keep track of your regular diet and slowly take certain things out to see if you feel better. Although every patient is different, foods that usually upset those with IBS include coffee, carbonated beverages, refined grains, high-protein meals, dairy, chips, onions, and baked treats.
Certain apps can be a huge help because they can help you track your diet. You will know if you are eating too many carbs, fats, or proteins. Besides cutting certain foods out, it's important to eat smaller meals and stay hydrated.
Identify Your Triggers
While changing your diet can be a huge help, some patients start experiencing IBS from other triggers. For instance, some people experience IBS symptoms when they aren't getting adequate sleep. If you notice that your symptoms are worse when you are tired, try to adjust your sleep schedule. You may need to turn your electronics off earlier before bed, or you may need to seek out a sleep clinic if you suspect another condition, like sleep apnea.
Besides poor sleep, some people experience IBS when they are too sedentary. Make sure to exercise at least three times a week. Lastly, IBS can be triggered by stress. If you are already predisposed to anxiety or depression, talk with your gastroenterologist about antidepressants and reducing your stress levels. You may need to schedule regular massages or other relaxing therapies to reduce your stress levels and keep your IBS at bay.