It’s not pleasant to receive the news that you have a chronic illness, one that doesn’t have a cure. Yet, there are a lot of people who are given a diagnosis for an incurable and long-term health condition around the world everyday.
Not a lot of people are familiar with irritable bowel disease (IBS), which occurs in the large intestine, or bowel. Although it is not entirely clear what causes IBS, doctors typically believe it’s a problem with how the muscles in your bowel are working. This can lead to changes in how quickly or slowly your bowel moves, as well as how often you have to go to the bathroom.
Frequent symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
About 25 to 45 million people in the United States alone are suffering from IBS, but not everyone knows it. It’s also more common in women compared to men. It is estimated that one two in three sufferers are female but only one in three among men.
If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, there are a lot of things you can do in order to cope. These include:
Understand Your Diagnose
There’s a lot of fear that comes with receiving a diagnosis for an illness that you’re not familiar with. So, the first thing you need to do after you’ve been told by your doctor that you have IBS is asked as many questions about the health condition as you want. Your doctor will likely be able to provide you with a lot of information about IBS, including its causes, treatments, and how it will affect your daily life.
You should also read up more on IBS yourself by visiting books or websites dedicated to the topic. This will come in handy when you need to explain your condition to close friends and family members.
Moreover, look for support groups. Read about the experiences of others who are also dealing with IBS, and share your own journey to diagnosis to inspire others to seek help.
Accept Help from Family and Friends
IBS is difficult to live with, and it’s normal to get overwhelmed by the symptoms sometimes. So ask your friends and family members for help when you need errands run or house chores completed. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by IBS, taking a break and letting someone else help you can be a great idea.
In addition, it’s really important to surround yourself with positive people who will not talk about your condition in a negative way or make light of it when you are feeling upset. These types of negative interactions from people you are close with can make it more difficult to deal with IBS.
Avoid Triggering Foods
There’s no cure for irritable bowel syndrome, but there are certain diet changes you can make that may help ease the symptoms. This includes eliminating trigger foods that may cause your IBS to act up.
For instance, if you are lactose intolerant, reducing the amount of dairy in your diet may help reduce your symptoms. At first though, it’s important not to make any sudden changes or start a “miracle diet” that claims to be able to cure digestive problems. Instead, focus on eating a balanced diet and keep a food journal to track which foods cause you issues.
You can work with a dietitian who can note your triggers and create a diet plan that will give your body the nutrition it requires while removing certain items in your diet that may exacerbate your symptoms. Sometimes, avoiding certain food meant that you won’t get vitamins and minerals that you need to be healthy.
Manage Stress Levels
Your gut is intrinsically linked to your mental health and vice versa. If you are constantly stressed, your digestive system can go out of whack. To help ease the physical symptoms of stress-related IBS, try to find time during your day to exercise or meditate.
Take care of yourself emotionally as well by surrounding yourself with supportive people and talking about any issues that might be affecting you on a mental level. Your mind and body as yin and yang. If you make poor lifestyle choices or suffer from stress, it can impact the physical function of your gut.
Living with IBS can be difficult, but by following the tips above you can make it a little bit easier. Remember to ask your doctor questions, read up on IBS, and accept help from family and friends when you need it. Most importantly, try to avoid trigger foods and manage your stress levels. With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be able to cope better with this digestive disorder.