IBS affects 10-15% of the world’s population, and more than half of those with this gastrointestinal disorder report moderate-to-severe symptoms. While there may be some comfort knowing you’re not alone, you may still feel isolated as you cope with the limitations that IBS can place on your life.
Here at Integrative Medica, Dr. Jake Schmutz and Dr. Joshua Hersh understand the far-reaching impact that IBS can have on our patients. If you’re suffering from IBS, we work tirelessly to reduce its hold on your life by helping you manage the symptoms. But the effect that IBS can have on your physical health is only one piece of the puzzle — the emotional, mental, professional, and social aspects also deserve extra care.
To that end, we’ve pulled together a few tips for living with IBS.
Since there’s no cure for IBS, it’s important that we figure out what sets the condition off in terms of food and drink and come up with a plan that closely controls what you put into your digestive system. Each person is different, so we tailor a plan to your unique circumstances. You can help by keeping a food diary to record where trouble may lurk.
Once you have a clear idea of your dietary constraints, you can offset the uncomfortable side effects by implementing a strong avoidance plan.
Should your IBS symptoms still crop up, we can treat the symptoms on a case-by-case basis.
The frustration that comes with IBS cannot be overstated, and it can have a strong impact on your mental health, leaving you with extreme anxiety and even shame. We urge you to be kinder to yourself and practice relaxation techniques that help you master the anxiety. The effect that stress has on your health is well-documented, and when it comes to IBS, the link is clear — stress can initiate your IBS symptoms.
Learning to breathe and center yourself in times of high stress can lower your physical responses, such as muscle tension (or cramping in the case of IBS). Relaxation techniques can also lower the activity in your digestive tract.
Getting together with friends, dating, and family get-togethers can be wrought with landmines for IBS sufferers. You can take some of the pressure off by accepting your limitations, begging off when you need to, and explaining your problem so that others are more understanding. Naturally, you may not want to bring the topic up on a first date, but you may be surprised at just how compassionate people can be about your IBS.
IBS can certainly pose problems for those in the professional world, where client lunches are de rigueur and stress levels are high. Here again, practice your relaxation techniques and be sure to avoid situations that might trigger your IBS. For example, rather than getting together with a colleague for food and drinks that could trigger your symptoms, why not suggest a more creative get-together, like a stroll or bike ride through the park. The chance to get out from behind a desk will be much appreciated.
Ultimately, living with IBS is a compromise where you need to make certain concessions, but you can also find alternative ways to enjoy life to its fullest. And we’re here to help in any way we can. Simply give us a call or schedule an appointment at Integrative Medica today.