Navigate Up

Orthopaedics Center - A-Z Index

#
I
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Irritable bowel syndrome - aftercare

Alternate Names

IBS - aftercare

What to expect at home

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be a lifelong condition. You may be suffering from cramping and loose stools, diarrhea, constipation, or some combination of these symptoms.

For some people, IBS symptoms may interfere with work, travel, and attending social events. But taking medicines and making lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms.

Diet

Changes in your diet may be helpful. However, IBS varies from person to person. So the same changes may not work for everyone.

  • Keep track of your symptoms and the foods you are eating. This will help you look for a pattern of foods that may make your symptoms worse.
  • Avoid foods that cause symptoms. These may include fatty or fried foods, dairy products, caffeine, sodas, alcohol, chocolate, and grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.
  • Eat 4 to 5 smaller meals a day, rather than 3 larger ones.

Increase the fiber in your diet to relieve symptoms of constipation. Fiber is found in whole grain breads and cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Since fiber may cause gas, it is best to add these foods to your diet slowly.

Medicines

No one drug will work for everyone. Medicines your doctor may have you try include:

  • Antispasmodic medicines that you take before eating to control colon muscle spasms and abdominal cramping
  • Antidiarrheal medicines such as loperamide
  • Laxatives, such as lubiprostone, bisacodyl , and other ones bought without a prescription
  • Antidepressants to help relieve pain or discomfort
  • Rifaximin, an antibiotic that is not absorbed from your intestines

It is very important to follow your doctor's instructions when using medicines for IBS. Taking different medicines or not taking medicines the way your doctor advised can lead to more problems.

Stress

Stress may cause your intestines to be more sensitive and contract more. Many things can cause stress, including:

  • Not being able to do activities because of your pain
  • Changes or problems at work or at home
  • A busy schedule
  • Spending too much time alone
  • Having other medical problems

A first step toward reducing your stress is to figure out what makes you feel stressed.

  • Look at the things in your life that cause you the most worry.
  • Keep a diary of the experiences and thoughts that seem to be related to your anxiety and see if you can make changes to these situations.
  • Reach out to other people.
  • Find someone you trust (such as a friend, family member, neighbor, or clergy member) who will listen to you. Often, just talking to someone helps relieve anxiety and stress.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • You develop a fever
  • You have gastrointestinal bleeding
  • You have bad pain that does not go away
  • You lose over 5 to 10 pounds when you are not trying to lose weight

References

Irritable bowel syndrome. NIH Publication No. 12-693. July 2012. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).

Talley NJ. Irritable bowel syndrome. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 118.

Updated: 7/18/2013

George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com