IBS cannot be cured. Often the symptoms of IBS can be managed with changes to lifestyle and diet but medication and psychological treatments may also be used. Due to the varied symptoms, each patient will need a different treatment plan that is tailored to their needs.
The NHS lists several different treatment options for those that have been diagnosed with IBS:
Those that have been diagnosed with IBS are often advised to keep a food diary. This is because each person will have different triggers and writing down intake and symptoms can help identify which foods may need to be avoided. However, it’s possible for triggers to change over time.
Many of those diagnosed with IBS are recommended to change the amount of fibre in their diet. Your GP should advise on fibre intake, including how your intake should be made up of soluble fibre and insoluble fibre.
A low FODMAP diet restricts the intake of various foods that start to ferment in the gut relatively quickly, potentially leading to bloating and other symptoms of IBS. A low FODMAP diet can restrict some fruits, vegetable, wheat products, and beans.
Adding exercise to daily routines can help relieve the symptoms of IBS. The NHS recommends that that moderate-intensity aerobic activity is undertaken for a minimum of 150 minutes each week.
Stress has been linked to IBS and as a result, reducing the levels of stress can help relieve the symptoms. Reducing stress can range from undertaking exercise to attending counselling.
Your doctor may also prescribe medication that can help manage the symptoms of IBS. These could include antispasmodics to reduce abdominal pain, laxatives to relieve constipation, antimotility to relieve diarrhoea, and low-dose antidepressants to reduce cramping.
If lifestyle and diet changes or medication hasn’t relieved the symptoms of IBS, a doctor may recommend psychotherapy treatments that aim to better control the condition. Treatments that may be offered include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and hypnotherapy.