For most people who have
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), home treatment may be
the best way to manage the symptoms. It is also helpful to learn all you can
about IBS so you can effectively communicate concerns and questions to your
Although there currently is no cure for IBS,
careful attention to diet and stress management should help keep your symptoms
under control and perhaps even prevent them from coming back.
In many people who have IBS,
eating may trigger symptoms. But for most people, there is not a
particular type of food that triggers symptoms.
amount of fiber in your diet can help control constipation. High-fiber foods
include fresh fruits (raspberries, pears, apples), fresh vegetables (peas,
brussels sprouts), wheat bran, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Beans such
as kidney, pinto, and garbanzo are also high-fiber foods, but they should
probably be avoided if gas is one of your symptoms.
If you have trouble getting enough fiber in your diet, you can take a fiber supplement, such as psyllium (for example, Metamucil). If you take a fiber supplement, start with a small dose and very slowly increase the dose over a month or more. Also, make sure you drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.
You can take
steps to reduce the possibility that certain foods will cause symptoms, such as
avoiding or limiting gas-producing foods (including beans and cabbage),
sugarless chewing gum and candy, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Controlling Symptoms With Diet
If stress seems to trigger your
symptoms, the following may help you better manage stress and avoid or ease
some IBS episodes:
- Keep a diary or journal of your symptoms as well as life events
that occur with them. This often helps clarify the connection between symptoms
and stressful occasions. After you have identified certain events or situations
that bring on symptoms, you can develop ways of dealing with these
- Get regular, vigorous exercise (such as swimming, jogging, or
brisk walking) to help reduce tension.
- A hobby or an outside activity can provide a break from
- Psychiatrists, psychologists, hypnotists, counselors, social
workers, and biofeedback specialists can provide methods for coping with
Because there are no structural problems in the
intestines of people who have IBS, some people may think this means that the
symptoms "are all in their head." This is not true. The pain, discomfort, and
bloating are real and have many different causes that can be addressed to help
While the symptoms are quite real, psychological
factors often play a role in the development of IBS. People who have IBS are
more likely than people without the condition to have
depression, panic disorder, or other psychological
conditions.7 Acknowledging these factors may help you
and your doctor successfully manage your condition.