Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, also known as spastic colon or colitis, is a disorder that affects over 10 percent of Americans, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. It is characterized as chronic problems with the colon, with abdominal cramping and pain, diarrhea, bloating and/or constipation. Often the symptoms cycle, so that one week you may suffer from constipation and bloating, the next diarrhea and pain.
How to Relieve IBS Symptoms
Get into a healthy sleep pattern. Neglecting your sleep, or having an inconsistent schedule can throw off your entire system. Create a positive sleep environment and a regular nighttime routine. Don't work from the bedroom. Get rid of the TV in the bedroom. Make sure to think of comfort whether it be the temperature or the bedding, or what you sleep in. Use a white noise machine, soft music or a good, soothing read to help you transition from awake/busy time to sleeping time.
Exercise regularly. A pattern of healthy living includes physical activity. Walking, swimming, sports, Pilates or yoga are all good workouts. Try to keep a regular schedule. Trying to make up for missed exercise sessions with one long intense workout will be counterproductive.
Reduce stress and promote relaxation in your life. Simplify your schedule, and cut out activities that create too much stress. Try some breathing exercises and meditate daily. If you feel overwhelmed, try counseling. Learn some ways to cope with unavoidable stress from a support group.
Pay attention to your diet. There is no one best IBS diet. Monitor what you eat and how you feel afterwards. What might wreak havoc on your system might not affect someone else with IBS. However, certain foods and drinks generally should be avoided. Those include fried foods, caffeine, coffee, and alcohol. Limit your sugar intake. Eat smaller meals and eat slowly. Aim for a low fat, high fiber/high carb diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Take medications, with physician's approval and advice. Some over the counter laxatives, and antidiarrhea medicines can be helpful, as can probiotics. Antispasmodics, and antidepressants may also help alleviate symptoms. Other medications might be recommended in your case as well, but only with a doctor's monitoring. Certain drugs on the market for IBS have significant side effects, so discuss all your options carefully with your physician.