Diarrhea and other digestive problems are no fun, especially for people who suffer from them often.
Such problems can be the result of bacteria in food, infection, stress, certain medications, or chronic medical conditions such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, and IBS. But no matter the cause, anyone who has frequent digestive problems faces daily challenges and potential embarrassments.
By Janis Graham Stuffing? Check. Stiff drinks? Check. Stress? Check. 'Tis the season -- for stomachaches. "The holidays create a perfect storm for stomach problems because of all the eating, traveling, and partying," says Roger D. Mitty, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston. And women are especially vulnerable, since some gastrointestinal ills occur up to six times more often in women than in men. What's more, a recent survey found that during the holidays,...
Do you schedule your activities around your bathroom breaks? Do you turn down invitations and avoid activities in public because you fear having an accident? If that sounds like you, rest assured you’re not alone.
Your doctor can suggest dietary guidelines and may prescribe medication to improve your digestive dilemma. But between checkups, you can take steps that will help you get through each day in greater comfort and ease. These 10 steps – from reducing stress to finding portable products for digestive emergencies – will help you cope better in everyday life. Here are some lifestyle tips from the digestion experts:
1. Master Your Digestion Treatment Plan
Your doctor will determine the reasons for your digestive problems and will prescribe a treatment plan. This may involve taking medication, avoiding certain foods, and adopting some new habits. It may take a while for you to absorb all of this information. Try organizing your notes in a file folder or notebook, along with any instructions and resource materials from your doctor. Review the information regularly and jot down questions you want to ask your doctor.
2. Know Your Digestive Triggers
Many things can trigger digestive upsets; these triggers vary from person to person. Try to pinpoint your own triggers by asking yourself these questions: What foods, beverages, and eating patterns seem to upset your digestive tract? Coffee, dairy products, and carbonated drinks, for example, may trigger gas or diarrhea.
Which medications (prescription and over-the-counter) cause your digestive problems to flare up? Which medications help? Keep a record of how specific medications seem to affect you, and be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
Do certain events and situations seem to trigger your digestive problems? Does travel make you unravel? Do menstrual hormones wreak havoc with your digestion? If you suspect a connection, plan so you can anticipate, avoid, or at least prepare for such tricky situations.
To help you make these connections, keep a journal of what you eat and drink, what medicines and supplements you take, and daily events. In time, you may see a correlation between one or more of these factors and episodes of digestive problems.