Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): What is it living with this condition?
Living with a medical condition which is unpredictable and whose symptoms are hard to define is a challenge in itself. Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is one such health issues that come with a barrage of alternating symptoms. Most of the times, even the patient is not able to understand that he or she is suffering from a medical condition that should be addressed. People suffering from it sometimes get better on their own without any significant medication and again start experiencing the symptoms after some trigger. People suffering from mild IBS may not even need a medical treatment. However, in chronic cases, the challenge is to monitor the condition and identify the need for treatment. Also, an effective lifestyle management can play a key role in enhancing the quality of life with IBS.
Things to Know About IBS:
- IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder where there is no damage to the colon, but the muscles do not work properly.
- Approximately 1 in every 10 people are affected by IBS worldwide.
- Symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and dissatisfaction after passing stools.
- Symptoms of IBS may come and go; they can become worse some days and cannot be there at all on some days.
- Mostly the symptoms appear after meals and relief comes after passing the stool.
- Things that act as triggers for IBS today may not be a trigger in the future.
- IBS has psychological implications also, as the person avoids going out in public gatherings or eating out due to the fear of stomach cramps and need to pass the stool after having food.
Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):
IBS not only affects the person suffering from it but many others around the patient like the family members, colleagues, friends, and classmates who can facilitate the life of the patient by making him manage the condition well. They need to play a supportive role in the patient’s life. Actually, the management of IBS requires a self-detective attitude to find out what works better in getting some relief and what can trigger the symptoms. the disease management. Their support can make the person better manage the problem.
Guidelines to Improve Your Living with IBS
- Living with IBS needs your active role in your own healthcare. It is not the doctor or the medicines, but your awareness and alertness which can help you improve the quality of your life.
- First of all, consult your doctor for all the diagnostic tests to rule out the chances of any other gastrointestinal disease.
- When diagnosed with IBS, enrich your knowledge about the disease, its nature, and the ways to manage it.
- Maintain a diary which lists the name of food items triggering your symptoms and others that alleviate the symptoms.
- Use medicines prescribed by the doctor to improve the symptoms which should be administered for short-term only. Get more details about the use of medicines from your doctor.
- Try some non-medicinal methods of treatment like relaxation training, specific yoga or exercises, dietary programs, and meditation.
- Join a support group, register in online communities or get in touch with others having the similar problem to know what all they do to combat the challenge of IBS.
- Let others around you know your condition so that you can comfortably and confidently manage your symptoms by adhering to your required food habit and sleeping pattern.
- Always remember, the more you take stress about your problem, the more it will increase. So, try to give yourself a change by stepping out into the open air, listening to music, professing some hobby, or simply doing chit-chat with your friends.
- Always be in touch with your healthcare provider so that he can help you manage your condition over the long term and also assist you in case of any emergency situations.
Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
There is no specific treatment for IBS, however, individual symptoms can be relieved with some medication. During the flare-ups, the patient should consult a gastroenterologist who may advise on certain medication for pain management, diarrhea or constipation to control the condition. Dietary changes, rather timely dietary alterations, based on the changing symptoms along with lifestyle changes can help in managing the condition and improving the quality of life. Keeping stress away and meditation can be an add-on to the IBS management plan.
When to see your doctor?
If the severity of the problem is more, one may find a doctor online & consult for immediate relief. The long-term treatment may require detailed information from the patient. It is advised for a person suffering from IBS to always monitor the symptoms and maintain a record.
Here are some common questions to help in the proper diagnosis of the disorder:
- What are the frequent symptoms?
- Is it mostly diarrhea or constipation or both?
- When do you experience the symptoms most; any specific time of the day, any season, or after any activity?
- What is your regular food habit?
- What is the trigger of your symptoms? Is it food, medicine, menstruation, stress or anything else?
- Are you diagnosed with any other medical condition or are you currently on any medication?
- What is it that gives you any sign of relief?
- Any unusual food intake or activity that you did before the flare-up?
- Is there any family history of IBS or any other gastrointestinal disease?
You don’t have IBS; Your Role
If you surround someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), your role is crucial to support the person dealing with the problem.
- Don’t make fun of the person suffering from IBS, if he or she uses the toilet frequently.
- Do not insist to eat a certain food item that he or she is not willing to eat.
- Do not talk much about the condition as it may increase the stress level.
- Facilitate the suffering person to take right food and enough rest.
IBS is a chronic condition that requires long-term treatment and management. Although, there is no specific short-term cure for the problem an effective management of symptoms can help one lead a healthy life.