Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Useful IBS Lifestyle Tips

1 - Many IBS sufferers go undiagnosed.

A national survey of 1,000 adults reveals more than 13 percent of them suffered from symptoms of IBS, but less than one out of five of them had actually been diagnosed with the condition, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). Among respondents who experienced distress similar to IBS, 85 percent called their symptoms bothersome and close to 30 percent said the symptoms interfered with their lifestyle at least once a week. Only 66 percent of those questioned had heard of IBS and only 17 percent had an understanding of the condition. The IFFGD recommends individuals who have significant bowel distress and pain contact their health care professional to gain an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment to reduce its symptoms.

2 - Identify food triggers using a journal.

For IBS sufferers, tracking the foods you eat and noting the times you experience distress will help uncover connections between eating and symptoms of IBS. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) publishes a "Personal Daily Diary" that individuals can use to record data. (To order the diary, call 1-888-964-2001, toll-free). Sufferers also can take detailed notes on their own for about two weeks that should include the types of foods eaten, the amount and time of consumption. It's important to also record the time and description of distressing bowel events or related pain and discomfort. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease recommends consulting with a registered dietician who can help interpret the connection between food consumption and irritable bowel problems and help modify your diet to minimize adverse episodes.

3 - Modify your diet.

IBS patients can make basic eating modifications on their own to decrease symptoms of IBS. According to the National Institutes of Health, the following food groups are associated with a worsening of IBS symptoms: high-fat foods, milk products, chocolate, alcohol and drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and colas, sorbitol sweetener (found in some chewing gum), and foods that produce gas, such as beans and certain vegetables. Many sufferers of IBS also are lactose intolerant, a condition which results in bowel distress and pain similar to IBS. Women experiencing both those conditions can experience dramatic reductions in symptoms by eliminating most milk products from their diet. Boosting water intake and adding fiber to the diet also can help alleviate some symptoms, especially for women with IBS who experience constipation.

4 - IBS patients more likely to have unnecessary surgery.

Before going under the knife, people with IBS should make sure the surgeries recommended by their health care professionals are really necessary. A study published in the medical journal Gastroenterology found IBS sufferers are at higher risk than others to have their gallbladders and appendixes removed unnecessarily. Hysterectomies and back surgery also were found to be more commonly performed on IBS patients among the nearly 90,000 individuals who participated in the survey. Gallbladder removal was twice as common for people with IBS than others without the syndrome, the study revealed. However, researchers found similar rates for coronary artery and peptic ulcer surgeries for survey respondents with and without IBS. If you're considering surgery, you may want to pursue a second opinion, if you are unsure about whether surgery is the right choice for you.

5 - Stress management therapies can help.

Since stress is considered one of the triggers of IBS symptoms, some stress management therapies-including hypnosis, cognitive therapy and biofeedback-can be helpful for some women living with this condition. Researchers using hypnotherapy to treat symptoms of IBS found patients experienced reduced anxiety and were better able to cope with their illness. Some physiological improvements also were reported -- such as relief of nausea, lethargy, and urinary problems-all common complaints among women with IBS. However, researchers cautioned about 25 percent of patients in the study failed to respond to hypnotherapy, and its long-term benefits are still being evaluated. Make sure a therapist using hypnosis is qualified to treat medical conditions. A partial list of clinicians can be found at the following site: http://www.ibshypnosis.com/IBSclinicians.html.

Thanks again to www.healthywomen.org for this article.

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