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Described as a disorder that causes persistent discomfort and abdominal pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a long-term illness. Even though IBS is fairly common, estimated to affect one in 10 people, over half of have not been diagnosed. Once diagnosed with this disorder, managing the symptoms – diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and bloating – can improve lives drastically.
There is no exact cause for IBS; yet, there are several factors that are linked to those uncomfortable pangs of gas and embarrassing bloating. Research shows that certain foods, fluctuating hormone levels, stress, depression, and other mental health conditions may exacerbate symptoms.
It’s also important to note that there are three different subtypes of IBS:
Although there isn’t a single test to diagnose all subtypes of IBS, there is a blood test to diagnose IBS-D and IBS-M in most cases. There are several exams that may be used to rule out other potential diseases.
One of the most common and irritating symptoms of IBS is bloating. It’s not unusual for sufferers to wake up with minimal bloating in the morning and feel themselves expand throughout the day. People with IBS often complain of bloating and it is especially worse in the evenings.
One way to tackle bloating is to determine the root cause. Common triggers for bloating can include:
Below we’ll take a closer look in more detail about how these causes can increase bloating and what you can do to alleviate your symptoms.
There is no single food that triggers for everyone with IBS. That’s why it’s important to know which food triggers you. Start with a food journal, recording everything you eat and drink within a week. Note when symptoms worsen and the severity of those symptoms. Despite the fact that figuring out your trigger foods is often trial and error, you should be able to pinpoint the exact triggers of your discomfort within a few short weeks.
Some common triggers include:
Once you know your triggers, you can work with your doctor through an elimination diet to help safely restrict foods that might contribute to bloating.
Once you’ve found your dietary triggers, it’s important to find the food that works for you. Many find that avoiding gluten and following gut-friendly diet plans help manage their symptoms. Some find that cooked vegetables (not including cruciferous vegetables) and certain grains help to manage bloating. Avoid rushed eating and try to eat smaller, more frequent meals to minimize bloating with IBS.
Adopting a healthy diet doesn’t mean you’re going to have bland food. WeTheTrillions has sustainable, customizable meals that can help you restore your gut health.
Research shows that slowly adding soluble fiber prevents bloating while improving gut health. Adding fiber into your life may be difficult; however, gradually increasing your fiber intake in phases can drastically improve your life, while avoiding complications like bloating.
Many find that supplements, such as Metamucil, can reduce bloating and other difficult symptoms that go along with IBS. With severe constipation, bloating is worsened, which is why it’s important to consume the right amount of fiber. Studies have shown that patients that consumed Psyllium, a soluble fiber of Metamucil, had a 90 point reduction in the severity of symptoms within just three months.
Once you’ve increased your fiber intake, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough water. Fiber draws water out from your body, which is why it’s essential to drink between six and eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day. Not drinking enough water can cause constipation, exacerbating diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
It’s easy to forget to drink water throughout the day, which is why apps on your phone can remind you to drink more water and keep track of your water consumption. Adding cut up fruit and drinking herbal tea are just a few tips to increase your water intake.
Improving overall wellness is linked to lessening the severity of IBS related symptoms. Generally, regular exercise helps with stress management, which can avoid the possible emotional triggers of IBS. Having IBS can be difficult, and is often worsened by specific emotional and physical triggers. Meditation and breathing exercises are simple ways to start managing stress and feeling better.
Exercise can be particularly helpful for those that have bloating related to frequent constipation. A study from England suggested that patients who moderately exercise for 30 minutes a day and up to five days a week had fewer occurrences of constipation. Regular exercise is proven to decrease the frequency of constipation and help your digestive system work efficiently.
Not one type of exercise is better than the other when it comes to managing bloating with IBS. The consensus is that as long as you stick with an exercise routine that reduces stress, helps your digestive system working efficiently, and lessons the severity of your IBS symptoms, you’re on your way to wellness. Switching between exercise program types could be an easy way to stay engaged and remain consistent with a schedule.
Gastroenterologists suggest some of these exercise programs:
Sometimes medication is needed to alleviate gas and bloating related to IBS. Talk to your doctor about finding the right medication for your IBS treatment.
Common treatments for IBS include:
Although all of the above are great tips for relieving IBS symptoms, the fact of the matter is the disease is unpredictable and some days may be worse than others. However, those suffering from the uncomfortable bloating associated with IBS should leave here feeling a renewed sense of hope.
Most of the time, bloating is due to minor issues that small dietary and lifestyle changes can resolve. Find your triggers and what treatments work for you. Then work with a doctor to create a specialized treatment plan for yourself. What might work for one person may not work for you, but know that there are options available for you. Once you’ve found your triggers and adapted your lifestyle, bloating from IBS can become a nuisance of the past.
Want to learn more about how dietary changes can help ease your IBS symptoms? Start by taking our three-minute assessment.