IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is an unpleasant digestive condition that affects people all across the world. It is estimated that between 11 percent of the worldwide population suffers from IBS symptoms.

Treating IBS can be a challenge because there are numerous symptoms, and there is not just one medication that addresses all of them. Typically individuals will experience IBS symptoms differently, so the best approach for one person will not always be the same for another.

Many drugs do not work for IBS because they do not address the underlying cause of the disorder.  Potential causes can include:

  • Nervous system abnormalities, such as poorly coordinated signals between brain and gut
  • Increased or prolonged exposure to stress
  • Hormonal changes, which is why women experience IBS more frequently than men
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Family history of IBS, as it is thought that both genes and the environment play a role

Luckily, there are a number of tips for soothing most of the typical IBS symptoms, so you can alleviate the discomfort, no matter how it decides to show up.

10 Tips You Need to Know to Soothe IBS Symptoms

  1. Use heat: Whether you use a heating pad or a hot water bottle. Both provide heat and soothing relief to an upset and cramping stomach.

Heating pads typically provide a little more heat, but with a hot water bottle, you have the option of using it while sleeping. Simply place it on the part of your stomach that feels the worst.

Be sure to always use a blanket of clothing to protect your skin and prevent burns. The external heat soothes pain and the warmth also provides psychological comfort.

  1. Drink soothing tea: Just as with a heating pad, a warm cup of tea delivers relief and comfort, physically and mentally. In addition to the warmth, several herbal teas contain helpful ingredients that soothe digestive troubles.

Peppermint tea, for example, helps to soothe the inflamed lining of your intestines, and fennel or anise teas help to relieve constipation.

  1. Start a food diary: There are times when a particular food will not cause you any problems and then cause you pain and irregular bowel movements another time. Keeping a food diary is the best way to make sense of the random results food may cause.

Make note of what you ate, how you were feeling, and any other circumstances that make a difference. You can often identify patterns with this method that help you to alter your diet so as to remove these unpleasant occurrences from your day.

Make note of factors, such as stress, sleep, and menstrual cycle, which can also contribute to your distress and stomach pains.

  1. Learn what you can eat: Foods are a major contributor to IBS symptoms, so you should try and figure out what foods trigger symptoms. There are two great ways to do this: a low-FODMAP diet and an elimination diet.

With a low-FODMAP diet, you restrict certain carbohydrates for a period of time and then re-introduce them slowly to assess their impact.

The elimination diet is similar, but you avoid potential triggers you are already concerned about and see if your symptoms ease up. If the symptoms return once you consume the food again, you have found the culprit.

  1. Assess your eating habits: Even though foods may be contributing to your IBS, it is also a good idea to look at your eating habits.

To reduce IBS symptoms and encourage regular bowel movements, the strategies to employ include eating on a regular, predictable schedule, avoiding greasy and fatty foods, avoiding gassy foods, and eating smaller meals.

  1. Increase your fiber: Many people with IBS have a fear of fiber because they think it will worsen problems. Dietary fiber is actually a necessary element for health digestive functioning and is easily found in most fruits and vegetables.

Stomach sensitivity and other IBS symptoms can be relieved through regular fiber intake, but remember to increase your fiber gradually to allow time for your colon to adjust. When it comes to increasing your fiber intake you need to be careful of bran products, because bran has been known to aggravate IBS symptoms.

A good place to start introducing more fiber into your diet is with low-FODMAP fruits and vegetables.

  1. Take probiotics: Since your gut already houses trillions of bacteria, it makes sense that they play a role in gut health and IBS. These friendly bacteria can become diminished in quantity, so the additional support of probiotics helps to keep your gut running efficiently.

A daily probiotic supplement helps keep your gut in balance. You can also try yogurt and other fermented foods, such as kefir and sauerkraut, instead of a supplement.

  1. Learn to relax: Stress is notorious for aggravating IBS symptoms, so the ability to calm your body is a great defense against an unhappy digestive tract. Practicing relaxation techniques on a regular basis will promote a sense of calm and lower your baseline anxiety level.

Yoga, deep breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation are all ways to calm your mind, body and your gut.

  1. Guided imagery: As a form of relaxation, guided imagery helps you to calm your body (and gut) through the power of your mind. “Mind over body” is more than just a phrase: it can be beneficial to use your imagination to help relax and soothe aches and pains.

This is a very safe technique to practice, and you can do it on your own without the help of a professional.

  1. Ask for help: Having IBS is stressful, which can serve to make the symptoms worse. Given how widespread IBS is, there is no need to feel alone.

There are established online support groups as well as numerous stand-alone websites that offer support to IBS sufferers. Reach out to others, share tips, and get advice on how best to deal with your IBS.

Additionally you can reach out to a therapist to help learn ways to control stress and understand the connections between your gut and brain. Hypnotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have both been effective ways of helping people to live with IBS.

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