IBS Symptoms and your Lifestyle

Young woman sitting on the bed with hard stomach pain

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms—including abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any evidence of underlying damage.


For many, IBS symptoms are mild and occasional, and may not even be associated with the condition. For others, however, pain and discomfort caused by IBS can affect life significantly, so it’s worth checking out the ways you can improve things by yourself.

The type and severity of IBS symptoms vary from one person to another. Most research suggests that women tend to suffer more than men, and that symptoms can show themselves at any age, but most commonly between the ages of 15 and 40. If you think you might be experiencing problems linked to IBS, such as stomach cramps, problems with bowel movements and bloating problems, a look at your lifestyle could help.

Diet (consider subheadings like these to break up the content into easily digestible parts)

First, consider your current diet. IBS symptoms can be exacerbated by your diet – and it doesn’t mean that your diet is generally bad; just that there are elements that can be changed to give you relief in the longer term. You may want to investigate whether you have any food intolerances, because these can produce similar symptoms.

In general, however, there are recommendations on the way changing your diet can make you feel better. These include reducing the amount of insoluble fibre, reducing caffeinated drinks, but increasing the amount of water you drink each day, and avoiding processed foods . All these changes can be made gradually, and shouldn’t make a huge difference to your overall diet – but could make a big difference to your life.

Stress

Secondly, it’s thought that IBS symptoms can be aggravated if you are suffering from stress. This can have many causes, from a serious life issue, such as bereavement or divorce, to on-going issues such as work-life balance, exam worries and financial problems. Your symptoms may get worse during particularly trying periods, so it is a good idea to look at the things that may be causing you to feel worried, and either trying to eliminate the problems if you can, or find ways to ease the stress – counselling, exercise and other self-help methods can work here.

If you’ve been suffering quietly with problems that could actually be IBS symptoms, it’s worth checking your physical issues against a list of symptoms and then seeing if you can identify areas in your diet and general lifestyle where changes can be made. This could help to manage your problems, although you should always go to see your GP if you are worried about your health. Symptoms can be managed more easily than you think, so why not take the time to find out more?

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