Best Treatment for IBS

The recommended course of treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) will depend on the type of symptoms and their severity, and the ultimate goal of treatment is to provide partial or, ideally, complete relief from symptoms. While IBS is uncomfortable and can be inconvenient or embarrassing, having IBS doesn’t increase a person’s risk of developing other gastrointestinal disorders, like colon cancer, so treatment focuses more on managing symptoms than looking for a universal cure.

There are multiple approaches that can help with IBS management, and these approaches come from different areas of medicine; some people benefit most from behavioral approaches or pharmacological approaches, while others see the best results with dietary changes. Most of the time, a combination of these approaches is the optimal method for treating IBS, and if you’re completely honest and transparent with your doctor, they can recommend a similarly multilayered approach that addresses all the various things that contribute to your IBS.

The four main approaches to treating IBS and the symptoms that characterize it include dietary changes, psychotherapy, medications, and alternative therapies. Especially when used together, these integrated treatments can provide excellent results and relief from symptoms.

Dietary modification can work wonders in reducing or eliminating bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and your doctor can help you determine the right dietary and nutritional balance for you, based on your particular trigger foods and symptoms. You may need a period of trial and error to learn more about how certain foods affect you, but your doctor can help you with this process and make sure you’re getting proper nutrients while you explore your dietary options. Some medications can also be used to relieve the symptoms of IBS.

These might include muscle relaxants to relieve cramping and laxatives to relieve constipation, or they might include antidiarrheal medications if diarrhea is a predominant symptom. Low doses of antidepressants might also help relieve diarrhea and abdominal pain by relaxing the nervous system and making the gut less reactive to stressors and trigger foods.

Because of the profound connection between the functioning of the colon and the nervous system, psychotherapy can also be an effective treatment for IBS. In many patients, stress is a significant contributing factor to IBS flare-ups, and a history of stress or trauma is a common precursor to IBS. Anxiety and depression can also accompany IBS symptoms, which can, in turn, worsen anxiety and depression.

If any of these circumstances feels apt to you, you may want to seek psychological intervention to help manage your IBS. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in managing IBS, as has hypnotherapy. Of course, regardless of the type of therapy you choose, make sure you’re working with a reputable, experienced mental health provider to get the most from the treatment.

Alternative therapies have also been shown to be effective in helping with IBS symptoms. Certain probiotics, taken orally, can have a beneficial effect on the intestinal microbiome and calm IBS symptoms.

Therapeutic massage can drastically relieve stress and reduce anxiety and is a helpful part of IBS management, and acupuncture has also been shown to have positive effects on anxiety and stress as well as directly affecting gastrointestinal motility and alleviating the experience of pain. In most cases, an integrated treatment approach that uses multiple therapies will be the most effective method of treating IBS and helping alleviate the unpleasant symptoms it can come with.

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