Hand reaches up through the seat from out of a toilet in a domestic bathroom.

IBS can make you feel like your life is going down the toilet.

So you’re miserable with bowel troubles and pain, and you want to know what to do about it. Well there ARE things you can do! You just have to DO them.

Here are first 5 things I think you should do if you have IBS symptoms, and you are just starting out on this journey.

Some of these may seem like common sense, but I admit I didn’t do some of them until I absolutely had to.

 

1. See your doctor.

This first one is extremely important!

You don’t want to try diagnosing yourself with IBS, only to find out you have a treatable and/or a serious condition.

Now I know it’s embarrassing to talk about toilet habits. But remember, your doctor has heard and seen it all.  You need to know that bowel troubles are nothing new to him or her.

Doctor in a white lab coat with a "no self diagnosis" sign.

Sometimes IBS type symptoms can be the sign of a health problem or even a medical emergency. BE CAREFUL!

If your doctor can’t find anything wrong, see if you can get a referral to a gastroenterologist. That’s a doctor that specializes in the digestive system.

If your doctor can’t find anything wrong, but won’t give you a referral, I think it’s time to find a new doctor.

2. See an allergist.

I know several people that have all kinds of problems with their bowels if they eat certain foods.  Each of these people later found out that they had an undiagnosed food allergy.

Symptoms of a food allergy may include exzema or other skin problems, digestive problems (like IBS) and a host of other symptoms.

3. See a qualified dietician or nutritionist.

If steps one and two haven’t helped, I think you should consider finding foods that may be triggering your IBS symptoms.

Many people don’t have an allergy, but have a food sensitivity or food intolerance.

A nutritionist or dietitian tries to prevent and treat your illnesses by recommending dietary changes.

This kind of professional can help you find foods that are causing you problems. One way he or she might do that is with a food elimination diet. That’s where you…

4. Keep a food diary and look for problem foods.

Food Diary to detect food intolerance.

Keep a food diary to detect problem foods. You may find foods that trigger your IBS symptoms.
© Can Stock Photo

I admit this is something I was NOT good at. But I found out that I have a wheat sensitivity, lactose intolerance, and problems with soy.

When you write down what you eat each day, you’ll be surprised at how much you eat. Don’t let that worry or bother you, just keep writing it down.

If you have an IBS flare up, then look back to what you’ve eaten over the past 2 or 3 days (it can take that long for a food to give you trouble). If you keep the diary for a while, you may find a pattern.

Again, a nutritionist or dietician can be a huge help with this.

5. Avoid foods that you find trigger your IBS.

Of course you’ll need to avoid the foods you find give you problems, but certain types of food almost always cause problem. Here’s MY list:

  • High fat foods.
  • High fiber foods if you are not used to them.
  • Any food likely to cause gas (like beans for most people).
  • Soda, which puts carbonation into your bowels, where you don’t need extra gas.
  • Chewing gum, which stimulates your digestion, and may contain sorbitol (a laxative sweetener).
  • Alcohol, which irritates the bowels in many people, and may mess with neurotransmitters.

Well there you have it…

That’s my take on the first 5 things you should do if you have IBS symptoms.  Of course, I’m no doctor; just a guy that’s been through the IBS routine.  ;)

Do  YOU have ideas on things a newcomer to IBS world should do??? 
Help out with your ideas in the comments section!