Live better with irritable bowel syndrome: tips for your daily life

You may be wondering what steps you can take to live your life better with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The condition is unpredictable. Symptoms change over time and are hard to talk about and add to the challenge of living with it. Furthermore, IBS affects not only the  person who suffers, but also others who interact with him or her  – family, friends, employers, students, teachers, and more.1

There is no cure for IBS, yet, but there are many ways to manage the condition. It may require discussion between you and your doctor before you find what works best.1 Here are some reminders and tips to help you and those close to you live with IBS: 1

  • Don’t lose time worrying about what your symptoms may or may not mean. Start by getting a definite diagnosis from your doctor.
  • Take an active role in your own health care. Learn all you can about IBS and the different treatment options available.
  • Try to identify things that seem to make your symptoms worse and work on reducing their impact.
  • Investigate lifestyle and non-medication treatments that may help reduce symptoms.
  • Use medications to relieve symptoms. You may only need them from time to time.
  • Talk to your doctor about what makes sense for you.1


You may also be wondering specifically about your relationships and how you can better communicate with loved ones regarding the condition.There are certain steps you can take when communicating to better manage the condition and improve how you feel2:

  • Try to locate areas of conflict in your personal relationships and discuss them, while avoiding withdrawing or blaming. Talking about problem areas reduces stress.
  • Be specific about the kinds of support you need from your significant others. They may be misinformed about what is useful for you.
  • Be aware that friends and family members may be projecting their own worries on to you. Point out where their comments seem not to apply to your health problems.


Travel, whether for leisure or work, can also be very difficult with IBS. Given the uncertainty around symptoms, you may be afraid that you will be unable to control symptoms when away from home. If so, there are steps you can take to help you manage symptoms and create a sense of being in control when traveling.3

  • When planning your trip, consider driving if possible. Traveling by car offers more flexibility, allowing you to stop when necessary to use a restroom or take a break.
  • Carry a “survival kit” with you when traveling. Using a computer bag, briefcase, large purse, or back-pack, always have a change of clothes with you and a supply of tissues.
  • Allow enough time to get to the airport on time without worry.
  • When traveling by plane, ask to sit as close to the restroom as possible. Also, request an aisle seat for easy and fast access, so you will not have to ask others to move.3


Remember, you are not alone: having IBS gives you something in common with literally millions of other people who live with their disorder every day.1 Take the first step to improve your quality of life with IBS: make an appointment to talk to your doctor today.



References
1. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Living with IBS. https://aboutibs.org/living-with-ibs.html. Accessed 9 October 2020
2. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Living with IBS: Relationships and IBS. https://aboutibs.org/living-with-ibs-main/relationships-and-ibs.html. Accessed 9 October 2020
3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/treatment. Accessed 5 October 2020

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