Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) accounts for as many as 3.5 million doctor visits per year.
Most people can manage their IBS with diet and lifestyle changes, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to flare-ups. It’s not entirely clear to doctors and researchers what causes IBS, but triggers include food, stress, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, carbonated drinks, and stomach viruses.
Here at GastroDoxs, we often see patients with IBS, especially when they’re experiencing a flare-up.
Here are five effective strategies that our board-certified gastroenterologist, Dr. Bharat Pothuri, recommends to help you manage an IBS flare-up and find relief.
1. Know your triggers
One of the first steps in managing IBS is identifying trigger foods that can exacerbate your symptoms. Common culprits include fatty or fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and certain types of carbohydrates like those found in onions, garlic, and wheat.
Keep a food diary to track your symptoms and identify patterns. Once trigger foods are identified, try eliminating or reducing them to help head off a flare-up.
2. Practice stress management
For some people, stress may play a role in triggering IBS symptoms. Incorporating stress management techniques into your daily routine can help reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. Consider activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that help you relax.
Regular exercise can also be an effective stress reliever and aid in promoting overall digestive health.
3. Modify your eating habits
Changing the way you approach meals can make a significant difference in managing IBS symptoms. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to prevent overloading your digestive system. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly to aid digestion and minimize the risk of triggering symptoms.
Consider avoiding large meals before bedtime, as lying down can worsen symptoms in some people.
4. Increase fiber intake
As you know, fiber helps maintain your digestive health. For some individuals with IBS, increasing fiber intake can help alleviate symptoms. However, it's important to do so gradually to avoid exacerbating symptoms. Opt for soluble fibers found in oats, fruits, and vegetables, as they are easier to digest.
Insoluble fibers, found in whole grains and bran, may trigger symptoms in some people and should be consumed in moderation. If any of these high-fiber foods bother you, add them to your list of trigger foods.
5. Consult with our gastroenterologist
If you’re experiencing frequent or severe IBS flare-ups, it's essential to consult with Dr. Pothuri. He can provide an accurate diagnosis, rule out other potential conditions, and develop an individualized treatment plan to manage your symptoms. Treatment options may include prescription medications, probiotics, or dietary modifications specific to your needs.
While managing your IBS flare-ups can be challenging, adopting these strategies can help you find relief and improve your quality of life.
Remember, everyone's experience with IBS is unique, so it's crucial to work closely with our office to develop a personalized plan that addresses your specific needs. With the right approach, flare-ups can be minimized, and you can regain control of your digestive health.
Set up an appointment at GastroDoxs today. Click here to book an appointment or call our office in Houston, Texas.