Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (cont)
Insoluble dietary fiber or fiber supplements, such as psyllium or polycarbophil, which helps move bulk through the intestines and promotes bowel movements, may lessen constipation if associated with IBS symptoms. Whole-grain breads, cereals and beans are good sources of fiber for patients with IBS. High-fiber diets keep the colon mildly distended, which may help to prevent spasms from developing.
Some forms of fiber also keep water in the stools, thereby prevention hard stools that are difficult to pass. Doctors usually recommend that you eat just enough fiber so that you have soft, easily passed, painless bowel movements. However, high-fiber diets may also cause gas and bloating and thus should be taken in moderation.
Role of Medicines in Relieving IBS Symptoms
There is no standard way of treating IBS, and treatment choices often depend on the predominant set of symptoms that are present. For example, if chronic constipation is predominant (IBS-C), prescription drugs or over-the-counter products, such as polyethylene glycol solutions that increase intestinal fluid to help pass stool, may be appropriate. When diarrhea is more prominent (IBS-D), over-the-counter loperamide or several different types of prescription drugs may be used.
Probiotics may also help IBS symptoms and are safe. Occasionally, antibiotics can be used with certain patients, but over-treatment should be avoided. Finally, antidepressant drugs are used when abdominal pain is more severe, because they can help reduce visceral sensitivity and brain-gut dysfunction that contribute to the symptoms.
There are several psychological treatments that can help reduce the symptoms of IBS. These include:
- Cognitive-behavioral treatment.
- Stress management.
- Other relaxation methods.
These treatments seem to reduce abdominal discomfort and the psychological distress associated with IBS symptoms, improve coping skills, and help patients adapt to their symptoms.
There are no harmful effects and these treatments can be used in addition to or instead of the usual medical treatments.