IBS Survival Guide

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IBS Survival Guide

If you suffer from IBS, then you already know that you have to navigate the world much differently than most people. You may be calculating how quickly you can get to a bathroom if you need too, what foods might trigger you, and good lord do NOT get stressed, if you stress, you flare and if you flare you stress! Catch 22 right? Well, we’re here to (hopefully) help. We wanted to put together an IBS survival guide, with some suggestions for solutions.

Bathrooms:

In the first chapter of this IBS survival guide, we’ll cover bathrooms. The average person doesn’t need to worry TOO much about bathroom proximity. But if you have IBS, it’s always on your mind. It can get to the point for some people that they avoid leaving their homes because the stress of being away from a bathroom too long can trigger precisely what you don’t want: a flare!

There are a couple of things you can do here to minimize stress, the first and obvious one would be to map out all the bathrooms near wherever you’re going. There are apps for this! One we recommend is called the “GoHere” app by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. Download it now and you’ll never find yourself frantically searching for a bathroom again!

Another great thing to do is to pack a little personal ‘IBS kit.’ In your kit, you can put things like IBS friendly snacks, sanitary wipes, a bottle of water, hand sanitizer, even a change of clothes if you’ve had one or two close calls in the past. If your doctor has recommended you take an over-the-counter diarrhea medication, make sure you keep those in there too! Being prepared can go a long way to keeping your stress and symptom-free.

Travel:

Travel is another considerable stressor for our IBS warriors! Nothing worse for someone who suffers from IBS than being stuck in a confined space for hours at a time. On top of that, even the healthiest of us can be susceptible to E.coli or traveler’s diarrhea while we travel. So we’ve included some travel tips in our IBS Survival Guide to help you navigate your next trip without letting your gut lead the way.

  • On a plane, try and choose an aisle seat. That way, you can get up to use the bathroom as many times as you need without worrying about disrupting the flight for your neighbours.
  • If your doctor has recommended you take any over-the-counter medications for constipation or diarrhea, make sure you pack them. Even just knowing you have your meds as a back-up in case things go wrong can be a huge stress reliever.
  • Be super vigilant about your diet and stress relief routines leading up to the trip and try to keep up your healthy habits while on your journey. If exercise helps minimize your symptoms, make sure you try to keep up with your regimen while you’re away.
  • Don’t get too experimental with local cuisine. For example, if dairy is one of your trigger foods and everyone’s diving into the butter chicken, maybe go for something equally tasty but safer for you.
  • Talk to your doctor about starting up with a probiotic that has strains proven to help with IBS before your trip specifically. It could help stabilize your microbiome.

 

Journaling:

The best way to get your symptoms and triggers under control is to have a healthy and open relationship with your doctor. Instead of trying to remember your flares and signs every time you go in, you should be recording them every day, and bring your notes to your doctor’s visit. Here are some things you should be logging in your journal to bring to your appointment:

  • Write down the symptoms that are bothering you and how long you have had them.
  • Write down essential personal and medical information, including any recent changes or stressful events in your life.
  • Make a list of the triggers (food, stress, activity, menstrual cycle) that seem to make your symptoms worse.
  • Make a list of medications you are taking, including the conditions you take them for. Also, note if any of your medicines seem to affect your symptoms.
  • Talk to your family members and note if any relatives have been diagnosed with IBS, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease or colon cancer.
  • Questions to ask your doctor during your appointment. You may want to ask:
    • What do you think is causing my symptoms?
    • Are there other possible causes for my condition?
    • What diagnostic tests do I need?
    • Do these tests require any special preparation?
    • What treatment approach do you recommend trying first?
    • How long should I take this treatment before expecting improvement?
    • If the first treatment doesn’t work, what will we try next?
    • Are there any side effects associated with these treatments?

A great way to bring this practice into the 21st century and to make the whole process so much more convenient is by downloading our new app! It helps you track symptoms daily and organizes them into easy to understand charts and graphs for your doctor.

IBS stinks (literally), but with a little preparation and this IBS Survival Guide and some forethought, you will be well on your way to living your life – your way!

 

 

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