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 you from enjoying an active social life. Being mindful about your IBS can help you avoid potential problems. For example, always note the nearest bathroom and try to sit close to it. When eating out, try to review the menu in advance. If there are no agreeable meals, you can eat beforehand. Also, don’t be afraid to call it an early night if your IBS is acting up. People will understand if you say you are simply not feeling well.
Share with someone. Not everyone needs to know about your IBS, but tell a few friends and coworkers so they can cover for you when symptoms appear.
Have an emergency kit on hand. Always keep spare underwear, clothing, toilet paper, wet wipes, and a large plastic bag on hand just in case.
Don’t rush bowel movements. This can help reduce the stress of having to use the bathroom all the time. Set aside a regular time or times each day to have a bowel movement. Give yourself the time you need so you can relax. When you push, be sure to avoid excessive straining. It can help to elevate your feet using a footstool.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
Acts 4:18-31 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
2 Chronicles 25:19 “You said, ‘Behold, you have defeated Edom.’ And your heart has become proud in boasting. Now stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall and Judah with you?”
1 Samuel 2:3 “Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the LORD is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
Micah 2:3 Therefore thus says the LORD, “Behold, I am planning against this family a calamity From which you cannot remove your necks; And you will not walk haughtily, For it will be an evil time.
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