Most people have stomach problems occasionally. Usually, it’s due to an infection or a virus and the discomfort is short-lived. But for those living with inflammatory bowel disease, the painful flare-ups can be a life-long struggle. It can quite literally affect every aspect of their lives. IBD is chronic, but it is also unpredictable. This means working closely with a GI specialist to manage the disease. Unfortunately, there’s no one solution or one treatment that will work for everyone. Various strategies work for different people, it’s really about learning what strategies work best for you. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you get started managing your IBD symptoms.
Find an Eating Plan That Works for You
When it comes to living a healthy life, good nutrition is essential. It is particularly important when it comes to managing IBD symptoms. With time, you may be able to identify foods that aggravate your symptoms. Once you identify the foods that trigger bloating, pain, or diarrhea, you can avoid them. In general, you can try:
- Choosing whole foods rather than highly processed foods
- Reducing your consumption of carbonated drinks
- Choose homemade foods instead of dining out since you are not sure what ingredients are used by restaurants.
If you can, work with a dietitian or nutritionist who has expertise in IBS. They can help you work through what works and doesn’t work for you.
Learn Constructive Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress has a huge effect on your physical and mental health. When you have IBD, stress can cause your symptoms to become worse. You may have more bouts with anxiety or depression if your flare-ups become more frequent. Learn new methods to cope with stress. Try new things as the more tools you have to combat stress, the more likely you’ll be successful. Some ideas include:
- Mindfulness techniques
- Joining a support group
Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercise is definitely one strategy for helping you manage stress, but it’s also good for your overall health. You might try a group exercise program that also helps combat social isolation. If you can join a gym, they will have many different options. You can start by walking short distances, swimming, or riding a stationary bike. Remember to adjust for your tolerance level and discuss it with your GI specialist before starting any exercise regimen.
Take an Active Role in Your Own Health
You are the MVP of your own healthcare team. Be sure to be familiar with your medical history and always keep a copy of your medical records. Build a healthcare team that you have confidence in including a GI specialist, a dietitian, your primary care physician, and a therapist. Make sure to record everything from lab results to office visits, medications to procedures. Your team should offer help managing your medications, nutrition, lifestyle changes, and any other element that affects your IBD symptoms and your health.
What To Do If You Think You Have IBD
Whether you have an official medical diagnosis of IBD, or just suspect that you have it, it’s important to consult with your primary care physician and a GI specialist. They can help you manage your symptoms so you can enjoy your life. Sometimes they prescribe medications that can help reduce symptoms and help keep them manageable. Schedule a visit to your primary care to discuss your condition and your symptoms. Contact us at the Center for Digestive Health and let us help you find a GI specialist near you.