IBS Awareness Month Tips

| International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders

April is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month. Throughout the month, we will be posting tips that may help you find ways to control your IBS better. Follow IFFGD on Twitter or Facebook for mobile updates to these tips!

Tips for Friends and Family

Don’t let IBS overwhelm your personal relationships. Put the illness “in its place” – that means being concerned about the person with IBS without making the illness the primary focus of relationship life. Recognize the skills and strengths the person with IBS uses coping with this challenging disorder. For example, call attention to his or her strategies and skills used in managing urgency, pain, and distress.

Relax to Find Relief

Many individuals with IBS find symptom relief and an improved sense of well-being when they incorporate relaxation techniques into their daily lives. Here is a guide to how you can perform three simple relaxation exercises.

Better Sleep, Less Pain

If your abdominal pain is affecting your sleep, you might want to improve your sleep hygiene. This may include lifestyle changes such as having a regular relaxation period before getting into bed, keeping a consistent wake-up time, using the bed only for sleep, avoiding caffeine for at least 4 hours before bed, or not staying in bed awake for longer than 20 minutes. Improving your sleep can benefit your ability to

Breakfast is Important to help Bowel Movements

If you suffer from constipation, be sure to have breakfast. This is the meal that is most likely to stimulate the colon and give you a bowel movement.

Help for Children with IBS

Children with IBS need reassurance to know that bowel problems happen to virtually everyone now and then. Help them make healthy choices. Talk reassuringly and in a matter-of-fact way about bowel habits. Importantly, recognize the developmental stage of your child and, if necessary, be sure to work with your child’s physician to plan treatment that takes into account the child’s point of view.

Probiotics and IBS

Probiotics may be helpful to some who suffer from IBS. Probiotics work by adding helpful bacteria back into the gut in an attempt to replace harmful gut bacteria. Studies have shown a particular strain of bacteria, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, to be superior to placebo in relieving the main symptoms of IBS.

Medications That Worsen Pain?

Opioid-based pain medications such as morphine or oxycodone are prescribed to relieve pain. However, they should not be used for pain in IBS and other functional GI disorders. Under some circumstances and with some individuals, the use of narcotics can cause pain. If you are on one of these drugs for IBS pain and your pain seems to be getting worse, talk to your doctor about switching to a non-narcotic substitute.

Keep Things Moving

Regular exercise improves bowel functions, including the common IBS symptom of bloating. Daily movement is important to keep bloating from worsening. Take breaks from sitting to stretch your legs (and abdomen).

Pregnancy and IBS

Changes in bowel function are common during pregnancy. If you are experiencing excessive abdominal discomfort during your pregnancy, try reducing gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, legumes, cauliflower, broccoli, lentils, and brussels sprouts.

Is Fiber Right for You?

Dietary fiber can affect symptoms in IBS – for better or for worse. For some, it may help to add fiber, and for others, it may help to reduce fiber. It is likely that many persons with IBS will benefit from some adjustment in their fiber intake.

Other Strategies

Conventional medications not completely controlling your symptoms? Give other strategies a try, including cognitive therapy and hypnosis. Such therapies have been shown to produce major improvements that can last for years.1

To learn more about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, visit aboutibs.org


1 “IBS Awareness Month Tips of the Day.” About IBS, 25 Mar. 2021, aboutibs.org/living-with-ibs/ibs-awareness-month/ibs-awareness-month-tips-of-the-day/.

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