Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a gastrointestinal disorder that is common in men and women. Though it is considered less serious than other intestinal disorders, it remains a chronic condition for most people. The symptoms can be managed easily for most people, often by paying close attention to their diet and stress levels.
A number of people with irritable bowel syndrome find that certain foods in their diet trigger their symptoms. Food triggers are often different for different people, but some foods known to trigger the common symptoms include spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Some people with this condition are also bothered by dairy products.
Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet along with reducing alcohol and caffeine intake can often relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or at least make them less frequent. Adequate water consumption is also important in managing the symptoms. Additionally, consuming peppermint, in the form of hard candies or decaffeinated tea, can help soothe the stomach.
Stress is another factor that can trigger the symptoms of IBS. Learning to reduce stress through relaxation techniques can help reduce flare ups. Regular exercise is directly related to reducing stress and also helps people sleep better at night, which is an added stress-relieving bonus.
People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome often find that their symptoms may flare up and then dissipate for weeks or even months at a time. While certain symptoms, such as gas and bloating, can be treated with over-the-counter medication like antacids, IBS patients should use caution when treating other symptoms. Constipation and diarrhea are both common in this condition, but using over-the-counter laxatives or anti-diarrheal medications can make these symptoms worse.
A person who has irritable bowel syndrome but who cannot control his or her symptoms or experience any relief should talk to a medical professional. There are some prescription medications that can help control more severe or unrelenting IBS symptoms.