Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be a lifelong condition. You may be suffering from cramping and loose stools, diarrhea, constipation, or some combination of these symptoms.
For some people, IBS symptoms may interfere with work, travel, and attending social events. But taking medicines and making lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms.
Changes in your diet may be helpful. However, IBS varies from person to person. So the same changes may not work for everyone.
Increase the fiber in your diet to relieve symptoms of constipation. Fiber is found in whole grain breads and cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Since fiber may cause gas, it is best to add these foods to your diet slowly.
No one drug will work for everyone. Medicines your doctor may have you try include:
It is very important to follow your doctor's instructions when using medicines for IBS. Taking different medicines or not taking medicines the way your doctor advised can lead to more problems.
Stress may cause your intestines to be more sensitive and contract more. Many things can cause stress, including:
A first step toward reducing your stress is to figure out what makes you feel stressed.
Call your doctor if:
IBS - aftercare
Irritable bowel syndrome. NIH Publication No. 12-693. July 2012. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).
Talley NJ. Irritable bowel syndrome. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 118.
Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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