While there is no known cure for IBS, a combination of stress management, diet and lifestyle adjustments are key to reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms. Treatment options consist of managing your symptoms and avoiding risk factors that trigger the onset of your symptoms.
Your doctor will suggest a treatment plan that works best for you once your diagnosis is confirmed. It may include a combination of the following:
You may be asked to make the following lifestyle changes:
Keep your stress levels in check
Get sufficient sleep
Keep a symptom diary to help identify trigger factors
You may be asked to make the following dietary changes:
Follow a low-FODMAP diet. You may be required to avoid certain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAPs are not absorbed by the small intestine but instead break down and produce gas in the large intestine. Foods to avoid include:
Fructose (such as fruits, honey, high-fructose corn syrup)
Lactose (dairy products)
Fructans (wheat, onions, and garlic)
Polyols (sugar alcohols)
Avoid gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley and may also be present in vitamin and nutrient supplements, lip balms, and certain medicines. Avoiding gluten has been shown to improve diarrhoea.
Increase fibre intake. Eating foods with more soluble fibre is helpful in relieving IBS symptoms. Soluble fibre is found in certain fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole grain products. However, some patients may experience worsened bloating. You should gradually increase your fibre intake to help your body get used to it.
Eat small meals and drinking sufficient water
Medications and supplements
Antispasmodic medicines. These medicines relax the muscles in the wall of the large intestine and improve pain. Examples include alverine citrate, mebeverine, hyoscine, and peppermint oil.
Antibiotics. Antibiotics help to address the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines.
Probiotics. Some probiotics may help ease symptoms in some patients. However, more research is needed on the form, dose, and strains that are effective.
Always consult a doctor before starting on new medications or supplements.