Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Your GP will likely prescribe you with medication for IBS discomfort, but you may see greater benefits from changing your diet and lowering stress levels.

Getting the right medication

Medication is probably the first thing your GP will prescribe you. There are lots of different types and which ones you try will depend on your primary symptoms. They include:

  • Antispasmodics and low-dose antidepressants (to reduce stomach pain and cramps)
  • Laxatives (to relieve constipation)
  • Anti-motility drugs (to relieve diarrhoea)
  • Fibre supplements (to add bulk to the stool and relieve diarrhoea and constipation)
  • Calcium carbonate tablets (to relieve diarrhoea)
  • Magnesium tablets (to relieve constipation)

Although they can help, many of these medicines cause side effects such as heartburn, drowsiness, rashes and dizziness as well as failing to get to the root cause of the problem.

Changing your eating habits

Altering your diet can help with IBS. Insoluble forms of fibre, caffeine, chocolate, artificial sweeteners and nuts are some of the foods that can cause problems.

However, it’s likely that the process of eating itself is as important as any particular food in triggering your symptoms. Here are some things you could try for easy, at-home IBS treatment:

  • Have breakfast and eat regularly
  • Eat 5 or 6 smaller meals a day
  • Try the new generation of prebiotics to help restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.
  • Eat slowly and take your time
  • Drink at least eight cups of fluid a day

Help for the brain

People who feel that their IBS is linked to mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression, can benefit from psychological intervention.

Evidence shows that techniques for stress management can be an effective IBS treatment. For any psychological problem, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and sticking to a good diet is important.

Behavioural therapy (such as cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy) is also used to try and alter how your body responds to potential triggers.



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