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Managing the Symptoms of IBS the Easy Way

Jan 3, 2008
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal problem among adults in North America. During digestion, the intestines either squeeze too hard or not hard enough, causing food to move too quickly or too slowly through the intestines. This brings about a number of very uncomfortable symptoms including gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping.

Needless to say, anyone suffering from IBS is highly motivated to get rid of these symptoms and lead a normal life. Fortunately, while there is no known cure for irritable bowel syndrome, there are a number of things you can do to control the symptoms.

One very important aspect is to increase the level of fiber in your diet. There are two types of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps control constipation and diarrhea and is found in apples, citrus fruit, and vegetables. Insoluble fiber aids with constipation and helps move food through your intestines and adds bulk to your stool. There is an easy way to keep close track of how much fiber you get on a daily basis, which I'll discuss shortly.

Stress can also play a significant role in the occurrence of irritable bowel syndrome. Traveling, social events, or major changes in your daily routine can cause flare-ups of IBS to occur. Taking extra measure to reduce stress and stay relaxed can help prevent these occurrences. Learning relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga, or even simple deep breathing exercises can help prevent a flare-up of your irritable bowel syndrome.

No specific food is known to cause irritable bowel syndrome, however you may identify certain foods that seem to irritate you. The key is to eat a healthy diet consisting of various fruits and vegetables and avoid foods that are high in fat. You may also want to try eating six smaller meals a day instead of the more common three meals a day, and make sure to drink plenty of fluids.

Even though irritable bowel syndrome is troublesome and may be quite painful, it does not appear to lead to other diseases of the intestines. Reducing stress levels and changing your diet may be the best medicine for your irritable bowel syndrome.

So, how do you achieve relief from IBS? By managing your symptoms and treatment results carefully and systematically. Keep a journal of any symptom of IBS that you may encounter. For instance, the first time you notice abdominal pain or excessive gas, or notice any change in your stool such as diarrhea, make a note in a journal. Then on a daily basis keep track of any changes in these symptoms.

Having an ongoing journal gives you an objective and precise history of when and how your IBS symptoms have developed. This will be invaluable when you consult a doctor or gastroenterologist. Often IBS can be mis-diagnosed if the symptoms aren't precisely communicated, so be sure to use your journal to keep the facts straight.

Once a diet or course of treatment has been prescribed for you, keep another journal in which you describe the results. Have the symptoms gone away? Are they better? Worse? Do any elements of your diet seem to bring about a flare-up? If you remove certain items from your diet, are you able to go longer in between flare-ups?

If you are taking medication, keep a record of what you take and when. Is it helping the symptoms? Are there any side effects? Keep track of when side effects occur and how severe they are. Having this information handy will help your doctor prescribe the treatment that best addresses your overall health.

Setting up journals like the ones described here is easy to do. You can use a paper worksheet, a computer word processing program, or even a spreadsheet program like Excel.

You owe it to yourself to take an active role in managing your own health. Irritable bowel syndrome is an uncomfortable and even painful disease, and you need to use every tool at your disposal to make sure you get the best health care possible.
About the Author
Jason Jantzi writes for www.Health-Kit.com and is a specialist in researching treatments for pain and discomfort. Download a free IBS Health Kit from http://www.health-kit.com/digestive/ibs/ and take control of the symptoms of IBS today.
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