The cause of irritable bowel syndrome, which is a functional disorder of the colon, remains unclear. The goal of achieving long term relief of mild symptoms may be possible with changes in lifestyle and diet. In most cases, the symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation or a combination of both are relieved by such modifications.
When and how much you eat is as important as what you eat. Skipping meals should be avoided. Try to eat meals at the same time each day. Eating small and frequent meals helps with the symptom of diarrhea. If you are unable to tolerate dairy products substitute yogurt for milk products, try taking an enzyme product that aids in the break down of lactose, or reduce the amount of consumed milk products. If milk products need to be eliminated from the diet, it is important to get enough protein, calcium, and vitamins from other sources.
Regular exercise helps manage IBS symptoms by stimulating normal intestinal contractions. Exercise is beneficial in reducing stress and relieving depression. If you have other medical conditions, it is advisable to consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Yoga, massage therapy, and meditation are effective stress reducing activities. Acupuncture has been used to relax muscle spasms and improve bowel function.Scientific evidence to support the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture on IBS symptoms is mixed. (1)
The symptoms of IBS pose a daily challenge to individuals coping with the syndrome. Stress coping techniques can include engaging in a personally relaxing activity, such as painting or listening to music, and deep breathing exercises to produce a sense of calm and relax the abdominal muscles. Counseling with a knowledgeable professional and IBS support groups can offer guidance and reassurance.
A collection of clinical date which spans over two decades of research indicates some benefit from hypnosis. IBS patients who engage in hypnotherapy experienced a decrease in abdominal pain, improved quality of life, and a decrease in depression and anxiety. (2)