Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a pretty grim condition which annoys the hell out of anyone who experiences it. While the exact causes of IBS aren’t really known, some things can trigger and aggravate the situation. IBS can often cause stomach or abdominal cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, and is essentially a difficulty with food digestion. Luckily for those people that have it, there are things you can do at home that can help, but before I get into anything: if you have, or think you have IBS, it’s best to consult your GP before making major changes in your diet and lifestyle. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best way forward.

Often, IBS can be aggravated and brought on by stress. A good way of avoiding stress – or rather, tackling stress – is making sure that you have time in your day to relax. Exercising regularly can also help combat those negative feelings, and can help keep IBS at bay. There is such a thing as taking on too much – don’t do it. Manage your time properly and keep the stress at bay.

Watch how you’re eating. Sitting down and eating slowly will help with your digestion. Make sure you eat regularly and don’t skip meals. Chew your food up properly; remember, your mouth is actually where your digestion process starts. Don’t eat at night because your body can’t digest properly when you’re asleep, and this will not only disturb your sleep (which we all know is really important), but it might also trigger the aforementioned cramping.

Watch what you’re eating. Your body may well be intolerant to certain foods (I can’t eat mushrooms, for example, without really bad cramping and bloating) and cutting down on these foods might well help. Caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee irritate your stomach too, as do fizzy drinks, so watching out for those can also be a good idea. Make sure you’re getting lots of fibre in your diet. Oats and fruits, cereal, nuts and seeds are all rich in fibres. Don’t cut out classes of foods (things like red meat, dairy and so on) unless you’re being supervised by a dietitian.

Drink lots of fluids – at least 8 glasses per day! This should be mostly water and liquids that don’t contain caffeine. Herbal teas (peppermint tea, especially) can also be really good.

People often don’t realise how much of a pain IBS can be, and it can be really tough to live with. While it’s not curable, it’s certainly treatable. You can manage IBS at home, but be careful with how you approach it. Consulting your doctor can often be the best way forward. The suggestions above are only suggestions! Don’t make any major changes in your lifestyle without consulting your GP if you have IBS. This condition can also often be the cause of depressive moods and this can be a major factor as to how you move forward with  treating it.

Anyway, that’s all from me for this week! As always, feel free to get in touch with questions, comments and suggestions. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next time with more ramblings.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute medical advice. If you require help or advice, you should consult your doctor.