Coping With IBS – Harvard Health Blog

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be painful, annoying, and embarrassing. There is currently no cure for this complex condition, and managing its symptoms and flare-ups is tricky. So, coping mechanisms are a constant need.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder in which your gut becomes more sensitive, and the muscles of your digestive system have abnormal contractions. People with IBS usually have abdominal pain along with frequent changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or alternating between both). Other common symptoms include

  • bloating and gas
  • urge to move the bowels, but being unable to do so
  • incomplete bowel movements
  • urgent need to move the bowels.

Because no one knows what causes IBS, it is impossible to prevent it. Once you have been diagnosed, the goal is to focus on managing the condition. You can do this by identifying specific triggers of your IBS symptoms and then adopting strategies to make them less severe and frequent.

The most common approaches are dietary changes — eliminating or reducing problem foods — and stress management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Certain supplements and over-the-counter and prescription medications also can help. Your doctor can help you implement these strategies and advise what medications to take.

Coping with IBS day-to-day

People often need additional assistance, especially when it comes to coping with the awkwardness and emotional turmoil of living with IBS. Here are some ways to get the extra support you may require.

Join a support group. Talking with others who are dealing with IBS can help you cope with your disorder’s stress and anxiety. The online community Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group offers moral support and information, including news about recent studies on IBS.

Prepare for public outings. Don’t let IBS keep

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