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IBS Treatment Options

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. While there is no known cure for IBS, there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. The treatment approach is directed at both the gut and the psyche.

There are three types of IBS – IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) and IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M). Treatments are geared to the type of IBS. Some drugs help one type and can worsen other types.

Making certain lifestyle modifications can help alleviate symptoms. This may include regular exercise, stress management techniques, getting enough sleep and dietary changes. Some people find that it may be helpful to eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Your Rockford Gastroenterology Associates specialist may recommend some of the following depending on your type of IBS:

  • avoiding trigger foods such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods
  • eliminating high-gas foods
  • increasing fiber intake like Metamucilâ or Citrucelâ can help reduce pressure in the colon.
  • avoiding gluten
  • following a low-FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). FODMAP Foods are carbohydrates found in some grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy.

  • Antispasmodics: These medications can help reduce abdominal pain and cramping by relaxing the muscles in the intestines.
  • Anti-diarrheal medications: If diarrhea is a predominant symptom, medications such as loperamide.
  • Fiber supplements: These can help relieve altered bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool and improving bowel regularity.
  • Antidepressants: Certain tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed to manage abdominal pain and improve overall well-being.
  • Coated peppermint oil capsules may improve IBS symptoms.
  • Certain medications specifically approved to treat IBS. Speak to your RGA specialist to discuss treatment specific to you.

Given the strong connection between IBS and psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression, psychological therapies can be beneficial. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and gut-directed hypnotherapy are two approaches that have shown promise in managing IBS symptoms.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of gut flora and may reduce some IBS symptoms. However, the effectiveness of specific probiotics may vary among individuals, and more research is needed in this area.

Some individuals find relief from symptoms through alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and relaxation techniques. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any alternative treatments to ensure they are safe and suitable for your situation.

Importantly, patients with IBS can be assured that nothing serious is wrong with the bowel. This reassurance can help you deal with your symptoms.

IBS is a chronic condition. Finding the right combination of treatments can be frustrating for you and your doctor. Your Rockford Gastroenterology Associates specialist will work with you to develop a comprehensive plan that considers your specific symptoms, triggers and individual needs.

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