Suggestions for dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Nothing is more embarrassing than not being able to find a bathroom in time.

Nothing is more embarrassing than not being able to find a bathroom in time.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a term used to describe a series of uncomfortable symptoms related to the digestion of our food including: abdominal pain, bloating, distension, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, and gas.

Symptoms usually occur after we eat and can even prevent people from wanting to leave their house or participate in their usual activities.

IBS is thought to be related to problems with the intestinal nerves that affect movement of food through your gastrointestinal tract. However, studies of individuals with IBS show variable results ranging from very strong, rapid movements through the intestines to weak and slow movements.

Risk factors include your genes, psychosocial factors, such as stress and whether you have had a previous intestinal infection.

Irritable bowel is especially irritating because there is no cure or clear understanding of cause.

For most people, treatment involves symptom management for the rest of their lives.

While many people perceive foods as the cause of symptoms, there are no consistent findings that have been observed.

What appears to bother one person, might be fine for the next.

So what are some ideas to try if you have an irritable bowel?

• Keep a Food-Symptoms diary for a month: this may identify whether or not certain foods are more problematic. Avoid the temptation of eliminating a food based on one negative experience.

• If you have a history of celiac disease in your family, it may be worthwhile to get tested.

• Some studies have shown that 187-225 mg peppermint oil two to four times daily may reduce abdominal pain.

• Ensure you are drinking adequate fluids.

• While lactose intolerance (when you cannot digest the sugar in milk products) is not more common in people with IBS, it is worth considering.

• Symptom management- if nothing is working or you want tips to deal with specific symptoms, it may be worth seeing a dietitian.



-Serena Caner is a registered dietitian who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.


Salmon Arm Observer