• Living With Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

    The reassuring aspect is that IBS does not lead to cancer or any other major illness. However even though we cannot demonstrate an organic problem many individuals have significant problems that interfere with their quality of life. We take this problem seriously and hopefully some of the suggestions are helpful to you.

    When there is a new onset or change in symptoms without an obvious precipitating factor, it is time to see the doctor. If you have a change in appetite and weight loss, rectal bleeding with dark red blood mixed in with the stool, fever, symptoms that wake you from sleep or persistent severe abdominal pain, there is a problem and you should take note of your symptoms and make an appointment to see your physician

    Managing Your Symptoms

    Take comfort in knowing that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common and chronic problem and that you may be able to reduce your symptoms with the following strategies:

    • Improve your diet by eating a high-fibre, low-fat diet and trying the dietary elimination trials.
    • Avoid "junk foods", excessive caffeine and pop.
    • When you have the urge to have a bowel movement, follow through on this if at all possible.
    • Exercising can be very beneficial. It is a great stress reducer and promotes movement of the colon.  Exercise can take many forms but 20 to 30 minutes three times a week as a minimum can be helpful.
    • Get enough rest. Not getting enough sleep can exaggerate the symptoms of IBS.
    • Keeping a diary can help identify specific triggering dietary and emotional factors.
    • Minimize stress and tension – both are big factors that affect irritable bowel syndrome. Our stress is reflected physically and plays a large role in IBS. Becoming involved with yoga and meditation can be helpful. Our breath can also be a great help in helping to promote relaxation. When we become tense, we start to breathe shallowly and may even hold our breath. Emphasizing exhalation in the breath cycle is a physiological way to enhance relaxation. When one is experiencing abdominal pain consciously bring one's attention to one's breath. Breathe in and out slowly, evenly and continuously. Exaggerate the exhalation phase. Continue to breathe in this fashion until the pain has subsided.

    Understanding FODMAPs - This small group of small carbohydrate (sugar) molecules found in everyday foods may trigger digestive symptoms in people with digestive disorders such as IBS.

    Treatment Options

    In addition to the strategies listed in our Managing Your Symptoms section, there are some drugs available that can help the pain and spasm of IBS that your doctor can prescribe. Anti-diarrheal medications can be helpful in patients suffering from predominantly diarrhea symptoms. Certain antidepressants have been used to help with the pain by altering the way the brain perceives pain.

Enhancing lifelong health

The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation believes our ability to help establish, enrich and protect a healthy gut microbiota is the key to lifelong health