Around one in five people in the UK experience IBS or troublesome digestive problems with symptoms such as reflux, heartburn, vomiting, nausea, flatulence, stomach ache, discomfort, and diarrhoea.
Self-management of lifestyle and diet is key to managing the daily discomfort and often embarrassing gastrointestinal symptoms that can blight the lives of many.
Dr Megan Arroll, psychologist and author of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: navigating your way to recovery (Hammersmith Books £9.99) has the below advice:
Navigate your way to recovery
Get the right diagnosis. IBS symptoms overlap with other illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, endometriosis and Coeliac disease (an allergy to gluten). The right diagnosis is important so that you can find an effective treatment.
Know your triggers. Food, drink and stress can trigger IBS symptoms. Keep an IBS diary over two weeks. Note down food and drink consumed, daily activities undertaken and anything that causes stress or anxiety.
Nutritional know-how. Swap wheat-based products for oat-based ones. Opt for soluble types of fibre such as lentils, beans, strawberries, blueberries, carrots and dried peas rather than insoluble fibre (e.g. wheat bran, barley, couscous, brown rice and bulgur wheat). Drink plenty of water daily and limit your intake of caffeinated drinks.
Take moderate exercise. Research from the Netherlands has shown that 30-minutes of brisk walking plus 11 minutes of home-based physical exercise a day can reduce constipation and increase ‘transit time’ of food.
Mindful techniques. Dr Megan Arroll says: Research has shown that cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy are psychological techniques that may help reduce the physical symptoms of IBS. However, both therapies should be administered by trained therapists with knowledge of IBS.
Be prepared. Pack an ‘emergency kit’ in your bag that holds medications, flushable wet wipes and a change of underwear in sealable plastic bag. You probably won’t need to use the pack’s contents, but just having it to hand can relieve anxiety.
Keep Calm. Practice diaphragmatic breathing to help calm the anxiety experienced at the onset of an IBS flare up.
Help from Over-the-Counter. As early as the 1940s, research has shown that a natural compound of the mineral substance silicon and oxygen, silicic acid, can relieve a number of gastrointestinal symptoms when the particles are suspended in a colloidal and hydrated gel. A small amount of the highly dispersible gel has been clinically shown to normalise the function of the stomach and bowel with no known side effects. It creates a protective lining in the stomach and intestine, and acts as a magnet physically binding toxins, irritants and pathogens which reduces their ability to cause inflammation, and renders them harmless to pass through the digestive tract.
Users of silicic acid gel typically report fast relief from their symptoms, particularly diarrhoea, stomach ache, bloating and nausea. Many report feeling in control of their life again and being able to exercise, take simple trips to the shops, and accept invitations to family events that would once have been impossible. Silicic acid gel treatments are available from Boots, Holland & Barret, Superdrug, Tesco and independent pharmacies and health stores.
 Excerpts ( IBS) from Global Business Intelligence Market Research Report, GBIHC241MR, Published Nov ‘12
Content supplied by FW Medical Ltd.