The Best Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (In My Opinion)
For those of you new to the subject, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a painful and debilitating stomach disorder that affects 1 in every 5 Americans. There is no "cure", and there are no "definitive" treatments. People who suffer IBS, myself included, just accept it and do our best to manage it.
After 11 years of having IBS (IBS-D specifically), I've learned some good ways to manage my symptoms. Coming in at the real #1 is the trust in my faith, but that's up to you to accept or not. Aside from my personal treatments, here is a list discussing medical treatments that were the Best-Of that worked for me.
One of the most scoffed at IBS prescriptions turns out to be the most effective. I personally gave my doctor a weird look when he suggested it. But it works well to manage symptoms. I'm on the max dosage out of necessity. I need it bad apparently. Who knew?
My IBS stemmed from a childhood trauma which led to a lifetime of anxiety, most of which I really didn't feel on the surface. But deep down, I clearly had some issues- IBS symptoms being one of them. The anti-depressants helped control my anxiety. Mind you, I wasn't "depressed" 99 out of 100 times I may have taken the meds. Don't let the name "antidepressants" deceive you.
How to obtain: Doctor recommendation and prescription ONLY. General doctor would have to deem it necessary for you to see a psychiatrist. It's the latter that will then deem if you need this medication.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Recommended by social work grad studies as "#1", Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) relies on the restructuring of the patient's cognitive outlook on situations. It's sort of an advanced learn-to-cope sorta method. It's not #1 on my list because I didn't have time to go through with it- CBT lasts about 12 weeks
How to proceed: General doctor can recommend a Psychologist who specializes in CBT. The demand for CBT specialists is currently high as many war veterans are returning home with PTSD.
Change of Environment
Change your job, school, social situation, anything that seems to be the trigger of your symptoms. In my case, my job was.. er.. okay, but it was time for me to move on. I was too stubborn to quit though. I wanted to stay at that job, but my stomach issues -due to underlying anxiety- forced me to quit. It was fairly uphill from there. But any treatment takes time time time.
How to obtain: Ask your closest family and friends about this one. Will your family be able to maintain financial stability if you quit your job? Will you hate saying goodbye to long-time friends? Are any of the friends/environments you're in causing symptoms (e.g. bad neighborhood, friends are bad people or criminals who are eroding your moral being). You'd be surprised to hear what an external source (your family/close friends) can tell you about a situation you might be in right now, but you can't feel it. Yet.
Change of Diet & Health Lifestyle
This has proven to work for some lucky few. According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, elimination diets have only improved the well beings of about 20% of case-studied IBS sufferers. Fact sheet: Dietary supplements - PubMed Health
Tyra Banks, known entertainment star, has/had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. She mentioned on her show one day that she had gotten rid of symptoms by changing her diet to something along the lines of Vegan or Vegetarian.
How to obtain: In general, elimination diets try to pinpoint what it is that's causing your symptoms. This is done through eliminating every possible cause, then by slowly reintroducing them back into your diet. For example, you'd stop eating/drinking dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffiene, sugars, oils, wheat, water (just kidding, but you'll pretty much be giving up like everything for a while). After a period of time (please see your doctor), eat a little of one of the possible trigger foods (drink some milk, or eat a little sugar (?)). Whichever food causes symptoms is the trigger, and that's what you need to stay away from. This task is easier said than done.
As a quick note, if you or your family have a history of Celiac Disease, chances are you should stay away from products containing gluten. President John F. Kennedy, another IBS sufferer, was said to have some form of Celiac Disease as an underlying cause (and it's claimed that his Irish background had something to do with it, but that's not scientifically proven).
Oh yes, and exercise is good for mostly everything. So do that!
If you've suffered IBS for as long as I have, you've probably tried some or ALL of these with no success:
Over the counter meds, antacids, peppermint oil/tea, coconut butter, Hynotherapy, Acupunture, Moxibustion, meditation, aloe water, probiotics, counseling, and at one point I felt cured after climbing a vertical portion of a mountain- I assume my mind was completely off the matter of my IBS and more focused on not falling :)
Hope some of this info helps. Remember: doctor knows best. Also remember, that doctors can be just as frustrated as you are about Irritable Bowel Symptoms. Again I mention, there is no real "cure" known for IBS. I hope all of you have a Happy Holiday season free from symptoms!
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