If you've ever experienced an upset stomach, you know the difference between that and what millions of Americans suffer with — irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be very frustrating to deal with, especially with the symptoms of inflammation, cramping, diarrhea and/or constipation, fatigue, and bloating. Basically, it means your digestive tract is out of whack — it doesn't function correctly.
Once you've been diagnosed, usually the first thing you're looking for is r-e-l-i-e-f. There are several things you can do to relieve the symptoms:
More from YourTango: Put An End To Emotional Eating
1. Make dietary changes. Keeping a food diary of what you're eating and symptoms experienced can help eliminate some food culprits that might be adding to the problem, such as fatty foods, milk/dairy products (this was a hard one for me to give up but it's not worth the aftermath), alcohol, and some caffeinated drinks. Adding fiber (slowly) to your overall diet can be very helpful.
2. Look at medicine options. Consult with your doctor about the options of laxatives or antispasmodics that may work for you
3. Manage your stress. This should come as no surprise to anyone that stress can effect our emotional and physical health in ways that are hard to understand. The nerves in the digestive tract can become more active during stress, causing the intestinal track to become more sensitive and spasm more. Use exercise, prayer/meditation, counseling, coaching or even hypnosis to help manage your stress levels.
Finally, I should share with you that the reason I understand IBS so well is I've struggled with it for decades and not only is it painful, it can show up at the most awkward times and cause embarrassment and inconvenience (like on a recent trip). To put it bluntly, I don't always get enough fiber in my food plan, can't always minimize my stress, and sometimes have a hard time finding time to exercise. Does that ring a bell for anyone else?
More from YourTango: Let the Dieting Season Begin
I have found one thing that I've been using for the last four weeks that is making a significant difference with my digestive track (because of the probiotic's and fiber) and is helping to eliminate any troubles that I use to experience.
The fact is that diet plays a direct role in our gut function and when you find something that works, you want to share it. Be proactive in finding the thing that works for you and know that you can manage your IBS symptoms and overall health.