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Treatment for IBS depends on what symptoms you have, how severe they are, and how they affect your daily life. No single treatment works best for everyone.
Learn all you can about IBS so that you and your doctor can work together to find out what triggers your symptoms. You will need to adapt your lifestyle to best deal with your symptoms and still carry on with your daily activities. Let your doctor know if parts of your treatment aren't helping your symptoms.
Record your symptoms
The first step in treating IBS usually involves watching and recording your symptoms, your bowel habits, what you eat, and other daily activities (such as exercise) that affect your symptoms. Writing all this down in a notebook for a few weeks can help you and your doctor see patterns of symptoms in your daily life. You may be able to see what things make your symptoms worse (such as eating dairy products). Then you can start to avoid them.
Manage your symptoms
For some people who have IBS, certain foods may trigger symptoms. The following steps may help prevent or relieve some IBS symptoms:
Limit caffeine and alcohol.
Limit your intake of fatty foods.
If diarrhea is your main symptom, limit dairy products, fruit, and artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and xylitol.
Increase fiber in your diet. It can help relieve constipation.
Avoid foods such as beans, cabbage, or uncooked cauliflower or broccoli. This can help relieve bloating or gas.
Here are some other steps you can take to help your symptoms:
Get some exercise, such as swimming, jogging, cycling, or walking. It can also improve your quality of life (especially how well you sleep, your energy level, and your emotional and social life).
Quit smoking, if you smoke.
Reduce stress, if stress seems to trigger symptoms.
If diet and lifestyle changes don't help enough on their own, your doctor may prescribe medicines. Medicines may help ease symptoms such as pain, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, depression, and anxiety. Your doctor may also want you to try different medicines, or different dosages of your medicines, if your symptoms aren't responding to treatment.
Watch for new symptoms
Because IBS is a long-term problem, it's important for you to be aware of big changes in symptoms. For example, watch for blood in your stools, increased pain, severe fever, or unexplained weight loss. If any of these occur, your doctor may want to do more tests to find out if there is another cause for your symptoms.