Can You Reverse IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)—also known as spastic colitis, irritable colon and mucous colitis—refers to a group of symptoms that affect the intestines. A very common disorder, IBS is characterized by frequent gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramping that can sometimes make it difficult to live a normal, active life. Experiencing the occasional upset stomach does not qualify as IBS—criteria for this condition includes having symptoms at least three days every month for three months or more.
While symptoms can be effectively managed, IBS is not considered to be a reversible or curable disorder. Even so, many patients are able to find significant relief from their symptoms, and some medical professionals argue that IBS can be eliminated with the right combination of lifestyle changes, diet and medical care. The effectiveness of IBS treatment will also vary depending on each patient’s overall health and specific symptoms—for example, some people go for days or weeks without any discomfort, while others may experience symptoms on a daily basis.
Tips for Managing IBS
If you have IBS and are seeking relief, there are multiple steps you can take to improve your digestive health and enjoy a better quality of life. With your physician’s guidance, consider giving these tips a try:
Change Your Diet
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but determining what foods (or lack of foods) trigger your IBS symptoms isn’t always easy. In general, many people are able to reduce their symptoms by limiting or avoiding:
- Sugary drinks and sweets
- Fried, fatty foods
- Refined carbohydrates and processed foods
It’s also important to nourish your body with gut-healthy foods like lean proteins (fish, chicken and turkey), vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains.
Going on a walk or taking a bike ride may seem counterintuitive when you’re having digestive distress, but low-impact exercise—even for 20 or 30 minutes at a time—can help improve bowel function and make you feel better.
Address the Stress
Did you know that poor mental health can contribute to IBS? Stress and anxiety may trigger symptoms as well as exacerbate existing ones. Try prioritizing your mental health and managing stress by:
- Taking an online yoga class
- Journaling regularly
- Going on a walk with a friend
- Meditating for a few minutes every day
- Seeking counseling
Try Medications and Supplements
Ask your doctor about what medications and supplements can help your symptoms and improve your digestive health. Some people benefit from laxatives, fiber supplements, probiotics and other over-the-counter and prescription remedies.
IBS Treatment at Tufts Medical Center Community Care
Tufts Medical Center Community Care is a multispecialty medical group with a team of gastroenterologists and nutritionists who provide comprehensive, well-rounded treatment to patients with IBS. If you live in north suburban Boston and would like to consult with a GI specialist about your IBS treatment options, we encourage you to contact our team today. With better-than-average appointment availability and convenient locations, we make it simple to find the advanced care you need.