Treating IBS is a challenge. Irritable bowel syndrome can be painful, embarrassing, or worse, and management can be a tricky ordeal. Because of its complexity, coping mechanisms can be very valuable.
There is no cure for IBS, and controlling flare-ups can be a tall challenge. All you can do is identify triggers and do your best to manage them.
IBS is marked by a highly sensitive gut and abnormal muscle contractions in the digestive system. It can manifest in a variety of ways, including:
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Bloating and gas
- A strong urge to have a bowel movement but an inability to go
- Incomplete bowel movements
- Urgent need to move bowels
Because the causes—and there could be many—of IBS are unknown, prevention is very difficult. For many, it involves identifying foods or situations that trigger reactions and finding ways to limit severity and frequency.
The best way to identify potential triggers of IBS is by using an elimination diet. Try removing certain foods that may cause symptoms and remove, one by one, from your diet for a few weeks.
This is a rather time-consuming ordeal, but it can be very beneficial.
Even if you can identify trigger foods, you may not be entirely out of the woods. Various circumstances can result in IBS flare-ups that need managing. For those, it’s wise to employ some coping mechanisms to help you get through it.
Day-to-day coping mechanisms can help you deal with symptoms and provide support when needed.
Some IBS coping mechanisms to try include:
Taking Your Time with Bowel Movements: Try setting regular times each day to have a bowel movement. Block off a set amount of time so you can relax and avoid rushing. If you have to push, avoid straining and elevate feet using a footstool if needed.
Keep an Emergency Kit: Keeping an extra pair of underwear, pants, toilet paper, and wet wipes in an easily accessible bag can help.
Inform Some Close Friends/Colleagues: Telling a few friends or colleagues about your condition can also help. It can allow them to understand your condition while also helping them to cover for you when needed.
Coping with IBS is part of the treatment process. Without these mechanisms, it can be easier for the condition to take hold of your life, strangle you with fear, and sever relationships.