Around 1 in 5 people suffer with IBS in the UK, and yet it still seems to be a bit of a taboo subject. The symptoms of IBS are undesirable to say the least, with bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, constipation and fatigue all making the list. Add to this the fact that anxiety and depression are both “branch symptoms” and you can get a picture for how unpleasant the condition can be for sufferers.
The weird thing about IBS is that the exact cause of the condition is still unknown, meaning that there is also no universal cure or advice for managing the symptoms. Many believe that IBS is caused by psychological factors such as stress and trauma rather than anything physical, which can be frustrating in it’s own right (especially when people tell you it’s all in your head and you just need to calm down!).
And with so few sufferers willing to discuss their experiences due to the embarrassing symptoms, it can be a very lonely situation to be in. So in an effort to breakdown the stigma, we are sharing a couple of different things that we’ve found can help with managing symptoms. Without further ado, here are seven tips for coping with IBS.
1. Drink peppermint tea
Or take some peppermint oil capsules. Peppermint is known to aid the digestive system and a hot cup of tea can be really soothing when you’re tummy is feeling sensitive.
2. Get some exercise
Often exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do when you have a particularly bad flare up, but it really does help with staying healthy. Plus the happy endorphins will help to counteract any stress or anxiety that might be contributing to your symptoms.
3. Seek some proper advice
As soon as you mention that you have IBS people will start telling you to cut out gluten or increase your fibre intake or take a huge list of daily supplements, but the best thing you can do is seek some proper advice from your GP. They’ll be able to make sure that your diagnosis is correct and talk through the different treatment options with you.
4. Avoid fizzy drinks
Given that one of the worst symptoms of IBS is bloating and trapped gas, it’s best to give fizzy drinks a miss. Swapping your daily Diet Coke for a pint of water should really help.
5. Keep a food diary
There might be some foods that trigger your symptoms more than others, so keeping a diary of what you have been eating and the symptoms you’ve experienced for a few weeks will help you to identify what doesn’t seem to agree with you. Common suspects are fried foods, booze and processed snacks (I know, I know, all the fun stuff right?!).
6. Invest in some smart but comfy clothes
When you’re having a particularly bad flare up, there’s nothing worse than trying to do the button up on your work trousers and feeling uncomfortable all day. It’s worth investing in a couple of loose dresses for those times when you’re particularly bloated – it’ll make you feel less so much less self conscious when your stomach is the size of a small football.
7. Don’t be embarrassed
Last but not least don’t be embarrassed! Make sure you talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling and inform your colleagues so that they are more understanding if you need to work from home or take a bit of time out. So many of us suffer with IBS that you’ll probably find that people are glad to talk to someone who knows how they’re feeling!
Join our tribe
We promise to pop a whole host of good stuff into your inbox every Wednesday to brighten up your week. Can't say fairer than that now can we?