IBS is a chronic, relapsing disorder. This means its symptoms can fluctuate over time. It is common for people to find improvement for an extended period of time (perhaps having followed the FODMAP diet) and then experience a bout of symptoms. Sometimes the cause is obvious – such as overindulging in food or alcohol, or eating hidden FODMAPs you are sensitive to. Other times, there is no reason at all: it’s the nature of IBS. What is important when that happens is to have a toolbox of strategies to use to alleviate your symptoms. Let’s look at what helps to manage IBS flare-ups.
What Helps Managing IBS Flare-Ups
Tip # 1 – Rest and practice self-care
It’s easy to beat yourself up and be frustrated when a flare-up happens. Did I do something wrong? Why is this happening? Know that this is part of how IBS and be gentle with yourself. This is the time to take extra care of yourself. Sleep in, relax on the couch, and watch a movie. Take the day off work if needed!
Tip # 2 – Use peppermint tea or enteric-coated peppermint capsules
Peppermint is a natural muscle relaxant that has been shown to be beneficial for abdominal pain, cramps, and bloating. Try sipping on peppermint tea or take peppermint oil capsules (available over the counter). Check that the package says “enteric-coated”. This ensures they will not be broken down by stomach acid and reach the intestines, where they are needed. Exception: skip peppermint if you suffer from acid reflux/heartburn, as it can make it worse.
Tip # 3 – Try a heat pack
As you are relaxing, try placing a heat pack on your abdomen. Heat can help to loosen up the muscles and alleviate some of the pain; it also allows more blood to flow and helps relieve cramping.
Tip # 4 – Try gentle exercise and yoga
Gentle exercise like walking can help to let the excess gas out, which in turn helps relieve bloating and pain. And some yoga poses, in particular, can help to relieve some of the built-up gas in the GI tract and reduce the pressure and pain.
Tip # 5 – Perform abdominal massage
Rubbing the abdomen can also relieve some of the pressure built up due to excess trapped gas and reduce pain. Lie down on your back and rub your tummy ins small circular motions. Start on the bottom right of the abdomen and move your way up to your ribs, then across and down to the left side. Try doing this for 10 minutes or until you feel better.
Focus on stress management! Stress has a great impact on IBS symptoms. Thankfully, there are several strategies, such as deep breathing or gut-directed hypnotherapy, that can help you reduce stress and find relief from IBS symptoms.
In summary, IBS flare-ups can happen even when your IBS is well-managed. You can’t always avoid them but you have a set of tools to use when they occur. If you are suffering from IBS symptoms and want a clear roadmap to break free from IBS once and for all, let me help you!
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