What is IBS treatment?

No specific therapy works for everyone, but most people with IBS can find a treatment that works for them. Your healthcare provider will personalize your IBS treatment plan for your needs. Typical treatment options include dietary and lifestyle changes. A dietitian can help you create a diet that fits your life.

Many people find that with these changes, symptoms improve:

Dietary changes:

  • Increase fiber in your diet — eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts.
  • Add supplemental fiber to your diet, such as Metamucil® or Citrucel®.
  • Drink plenty of water — eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
  • Avoid caffeine (from coffee, chocolate, teas and sodas).
  • Limit cheese and milk. Lactose intolerance is more common in people with IBS. Make sure to get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli, spinach, salmon or supplements.
  • Try the low FODMAP diet, an eating plan that can help improve symptoms.

Activity changes:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Try relaxation techniques.
  • Eat smaller meals more often.
  • Record the foods you eat so you can figure out which foods trigger IBS flare-ups. Common triggers are red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat and cow’s milk.

Medical changes:

  • Your provider may prescribe antidepressant medications if you have depression and anxiety along with significant abdominal pain.
  • Other medicines can help with diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain.
  • Probiotics may be an option for you. These “good bacteria” can help improve symptoms.
  • Talk to your provider if your symptoms don’t improve. You may need more tests to see if an underlying condition is causing the symptoms.

What happens if medications don’t work?

In some cases, symptoms don’t respond to medical treatment. Your provider may refer you for mental health therapies. Some patients find relief through:

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