Living With Irritable Bowel Syndrome – 7 Tips That Help Control Your Symptoms

Do you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Around 10 percent of the human population suffers from this disease and I’m one of the “lucky” ones.

I have this disease for around 4 years now and I decided to share everything I learned about it and what helped me to cope with it and live a normal life.

First Things First

How it all started. I had a really stressful half a year, I was learning to drive, I exercised a lot, was pushing myself to the limits and for some reason, I had trouble getting asleep.

So, my day looked something like this. I woke up, went to school, then to the driving school, then exercised for around 2 hours and went back home, finished my homework and after all that I couldn’t even properly get to sleep, I would stay awake till 2 or 3 am.

Also who these days goes to the gym and doesn’t completely change the way that they eat? Nobody, that’s who, you want those gains here and now!

I was no different. I started eating a ton of dairy products, you know protein and yeah I did start seeing great results, but this was actually the critical point that made me sick. Dairy!

I remember drinking a glass of milk and within an hour or less getting diarrhea. Oddly enough I couldn’t connect the dots here. Maybe it’s something else, I thought.

So, the cycle continued, I started my day waking up and sitting in the toilet to the very last minute before I had to go to school.

In some classes, I would start to sweat from stomach pain. Then I would go to the driving lessons that were extremely stressful because you were sitting in a car for one and a half hour, it feels like you already need to go, but there’s no toilet around.

I couldn’t believe there was something wrong with me. It had to be the food that I eat, but no matter what I ate it felt that it’s all poison.

I can’t remember for sure, but this went on and on for several months until I saw a doctor. After making a ton of tests that were looking for serious colon diseases I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I self-diagnosed myself with lactose intolerance.

The advice the doctor gave me was to try out stress relief techniques, prescribed sedative medicine, that had no effect and advised to use anti diarrhea medicine.

Different Kinds of IBS

If you have IBS, then you probably googled that there are different kinds of IBS or to be more exact IBS can cause different symptoms. For me, it’s huge social anxiety, stress, stomach pain and diarrhea.

Others can have different symptoms like constipation.

So, the advice that I give in this post might not be effective for you, if you are experiencing different symptoms, but it’s still worth a try.

Also, disclaimer, I’m not a doctor so, before following any advice that I give here, speak with your doctor and most importantly always use your common sense.

Ways How To Avoid Getting IBS

If by any chance you are reading this and you don’t have IBS, then there are a few things you should know that might help you avoid it or at least avoid the severe symptoms.

  1. Avoid changing your diet drastically. For me, it was a lot of overeating and a ton of dairy products. Drastic diet changes can cause different illnesses other than IBS.
  2. Remember the saying that milk is good for your bones? Multiple studies have found no evidence of that. I recommend watching this video about milk and multiple studies that have been made. It’s not that you should avoid milk altogether, but overusing can cause health problems.

 

3.If you start feeling bad see a doctor for god’s sake.

If you don’t treat a disease it only gets worse. So, be aware of your health, I guess this applies for avoiding any disease. Prevention is easier than curing.

Juicing

After a year or two living with IBS, I found out about juicing. I learned everything from Jason Vale who is an extraordinary fellow you should definitely check out his work.

I became interested in juicing because there was a lot of testimonials that the IBS symptoms disappeared after juicing for several weeks.

There was a documentary by Jason Vale where he gathered a group of people into his juicy oasis in Portugal. Most of these people were obese and some had different kinds of problems and yes there were people with IBS.

For two weeks all they were eating was fresh fruit and vegetable juice. Most of the people saw major health improvements and what peaked my interest was that people with IBS claimed the symptoms were gone.

So, I figured I have to try this out, bought the “28-day juice plan by Jason Vale”, also bought a slow press juicer for making these healthy juices and started the program.

I had no trouble sticking to the plan, I didn’t feel constantly hungry as you would imagine and my energy levels didn’t seem to drop.

The problem was that I lost a lot of weight. From 62.5 kg down to 58kg. My height is 1.85m, so even now when I weight around 70kg I look skinny and at 58kg I started looking unhealthy…

What I noticed was that I had better sleep, my hair looked better and my symptoms were gradually decreasing.

Sadly enough even though the symptoms got a lot better they didn’t disappear completely.

After the 28 days when I started eating food again I felt really bad. You’re not supposed to be juicing forever, but the transition back to food wasn’t very pleasant and it felt like I’m back where I started.

After digging around the internet I found this article:

5 Simple Steps to Cure IBS Without Drugs

In the article, it says you need to eliminate allergy causing foods for 12 weeks to cure IBS. So, basically, this is what I was doing with juicing, but only for 4 weeks. To completely test it out I should do juicing for 12 weeks, but I’m afraid of losing too much weight.

Now hold your horses, did I just quote an article how to cure IBS and yet I’m still here sick?

Well, let’s go step by step through his 5 recommendations:

1.Get tested. Try to get a test for IgG food allergies and eliminate the foods that test positive for 12 weeks.

I live in Europe, Lithuania and no doctor ever mentioned this test, I’m assuming it would cost a fortune to get tested or it’s maybe not even available.

2.Test yourself. If you can’t afford the test mentioned above, then just eliminate the most common food allergens for 12 weeks — that’s dairy, gluten, yeast, eggs, corn, soy, and peanuts.

Okay, I have already eliminated dairy, gluten is basically everywhere, yeast in some of the products I eat, eggs are also in a lot of products, corn isn’t popular in Europe, I use soy milk, instead of milk and I love peanuts.

So, that’s around 80% of the products I eat right now. So, what’s left? Meat, fruit, and vegetables. Or… Juicing.

3.Get rid of the unwanted visitors in your small bowel. Ask your doctor to prescribe rifaximin (Xifaxin)

Sadly, this drug isn’t yet available in Europe and I can’t get ahold of it. Hope, it becomes available soon and renders this blog post useless.

You may also need an anti-fungal such as nystatin or fluconazole for two to four weeks.

I could find these drugs or alternative ones, but I’m not sure if it would have a positive effect without the antibiotics.

4.Repopulate your digestive tract with good bacteria.

This is a standard recommendation after using antibiotics or after having severe diarrhea. There are a lot of articles about IBS and probiotics, but all they do is treat the symptoms, but not the disease.

5.Try digestive enzymes

If you have trouble digesting food, then this can help, but it doesn’t help with the cause of IBS.

So, sadly the drugs aren’t yet available in Europe and you can’t really be sure when they will. A solution would be juicing or an alternative diet for 12 weeks, but it’s a really hard lifestyle change to make and for me personally, I can’t imagine myself doing that right now.

Hypnosis

It sounds really mystical and kind of scary – hypnosis.

It’s one of the ways for treating IBS. As you could have noticed IBS has this huge mental aspect to it and it kind of makes sense to treat the mind instead of the gut.

Just like with juicing there are testimonials of people who got better after doing hypnosis so, I was willing to try it out for myself.

I bought a course by Michael Mahoney with mp3 recordings of hypnotherapy sessions, you just turn on your headphones and relax.

The course came with a chart, where you have to evaluate the severity of your symptoms. At the beginning, everything was at almost maximum severity for me.

The course takes up 100 days and there are 6 recordings that you listen to on different days. It’s rather boring I should say, but I did make it through the 100 days without missing a day.

My symptoms did get noticeably better, but all in all, I still have IBS, altering my diet during the 100 day period most definitely could have had a positive effect, but it’s hard to tell because the time frame is really long.

Would I recommend hypnotherapy? Well, I couldn’t say I recommend it, it didn’t heal me, but it might work for you.

I think a major problem for me was that those recordings were in English and I’m not a native English speaker so, I think it’s likely the hypnosis had less of an effect to me.

I would try hypnosis again if I could find a hypnotherapist locally who would speak in my native language.

Things That Help Me Coup With IBS

Through out the years, I found out some simple hacks that help to avoid IBS symptoms or drastically reduce their severity. These might be things that you noticed as well but didn’t pay too much attention to. This kit helps me live a normal life.

#1 Diosmectite

I don’t leave the house without drinking it.

I tried a different medicine like loperamide, which is also an alternative, but from what I know it’s rather toxic and through time it can have an effect on your liver and it’s directly affecting your nervous system as with diosmectite it’s just going through your digestive tract.

I’m using it for like 3 years and haven’t found any side effects. It’s best to drink it in the morning and the effect lasts for the whole day.

To be honest, I’m that person who will rather suffer a headache instead of popping a quick pill, but if you think you can suffer through IBS, you are wrong, it will ruin your life and you won’t step a foot outside. So, find some diarrhea medicine that works for you.

#2 Walking

Long walks help a lot with IBS symptoms. When I tend to stay indoors more and be less physically active the symptoms seem to be much worse.

So, I walk everywhere that’s within a half hour reach, I don’t own a car and because of IBS I dislike driving because it’s super stressful and IBS starts acting up.

High intensity, training is actually exhausting and doesn’t have a positive effect, workouts that involve abs can be the worst. I would highly recommend adding at least a half an hour walk to your daily routine.

#3 Sleep

Sleep is super important. If I have a good night’s sleep my symptoms barely exist even without any medicine, but if I have 7 or fewer hours of sleep even medicine sometimes doesn’t help and IBS starts to kick in.

This might be different for you for a number of hours you need, but not enough sleep is bad for your nervous system.

Obviously, there are days when you just can’t get enough sleep, but I then know that I need to be more cautious of what I eat, drink and to avoid stress as much as possible.

#4 Not Eating Before Stressful Situations

If I know that there’s a stressful situation coming along at 2 pm, it can be as simple as traveling, I tend to not eat at least a few hours before that and not overeat on my last meal.

I never eat breakfast, if I have to go somewhere in the morning because going out is somewhat stressful. I then eat at least two hours later.

Somehow I naturally can stay with an empty stomach for hours without any problems. For you, this might not be the case so, you might want to disregard this tip.

#5 Keeping Yourself Warm

I haven’t observed this as much, but whenever I got too cold it seems that IBS symptoms kick in. So, if you are living in Northern regions with real winters make sure to keep your feet warm.

So, if you are living in Northern regions with real winters make sure to keep your feet warm.

#6 Getting a Girlfriend

Getting a girlfriend was a complete life changer. She did change my life in many ways and she also calmed me down a lot. Women seem to have such effect on men, not sure if it’s the same for women.

When I’m with my girlfriend I rarely have any symptoms, even if I don’t get enough sleep, even if we are traveling, I just tend to feel better.

There are a lot of studies showing that people who either have a really close friend or a lover tend to live longer. I’m guessing it’s because it eliminates so much stress from life and there’s no better and more relaxing thing than hugging someone you love.

Also, sleeping next to someone else gives you that primal sense of security.

#7 Avoiding Trigger Foods

I’m guessing everyone thinks that they are allergic to some food before they get diagnosed with IBS. So, everything seems like a trigger food, but once you analyze yourself a lot deeper you will find out your real trigger foods.

For me, it’s all dairy products obviously, but other than that I can only eat tiny amounts of fatty foods. Pancakes also make me feel bad and drain me of energy. Food that’s overcooked and cold water or sometimes ice cream can have a really negative effect.

It’s likely that these foods will trigger symptoms for you as well and you probably have a list of your own. Try to avoid these foods as much as possible and if you are planning to do the 12 allergen elimination diet, then these are your allergens.

How About Meditation?

I meditate daily and it’s a helpful practice to have peace of mind. It would be logical that it should also help with IBS, but it doesn’t.

I can’t attribute any positive effects of meditation for helping with IBS symptoms. Other than that it helps to fall asleep faster and I get more sleep thanks to that and as already mentioned not enough sleep can have negative effects.

I’m not saying to not meditate, but I can’t say that it helps, maybe it’s different for you.

Wrapping It Up

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a really nasty disease that’s really hard to explain to people. It can really ruin your life if you don’t learn how to deal with it. Hope, the tips will help you out, I keep learning new things through out the years and maybe you have some tips that I didn’t mention and I would really love it if you would share them in the comments.

I hope the treatment for IBS will spread through out the world making this article irrelevant. Until then I hope you will find these tips useful.

2 Comments
  1. September 14, 2017 | Reply
    • Liudas Butkus
      September 25, 2017 | Reply

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