Managing IBS Symptoms

Posted by Ned Snyder III, M.D., M.A.C.P., A.G.A.F. on Dec 19, 2015, 8:30:00 AM

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder with uncomfortable, painful symptoms: abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea or constipation. A chronic condition, living with IBS causes anxiety and frustration for so many patients, and this anxiety and frustration is often worsened by knowing that there is, unfortunately, no current cure to reverse it.  The good news is that there are ways to keep symptoms at bay and manage the side effects that come along with them.

Minimize Stress

Oftentimes, people develop IBS following a stressful life event, and it’s no secret that stressful situations often cause digestive distress. Having IBS often intensifies these stress side effects and can temporarily worsen your condition. The best thing to do is avoid stress, although – realistically – not all stress can be avoided. When stress can’t be circumvented, relaxation techniques like deep breathing, relaxing muscle groups in your body one by one and yoga may help. Exercise is another avenue to explore. Keeping physically fit can lead to mental wellness – it helps you de-stress and releases endorphins that will make you feel better. If there’s something in your life that is particularly stressful, it may be beneficial to see a counselor who can help teach you techniques to deal with troublesome situations. 

Another thing to remember is to get enough rest. We often put ourselves in a stressful frame of mind by waking up tired and unrefreshed from not getting good sleep the night before. 

Simplify Your Diet

And I mean literally simplify your diet. Oftentimes, people with IBS find relief after they’ve stopped eating processed foods full of extras like sugar. By eating foods that are high in fiber, but low in sugar and other chemicals often found in processed foods, patient’s often find that their symptoms greatly improved. Try shopping for food on the outside aisle of the grocery store – this means that you’ll be buying fruits, vegetables, juice (as long as it doesn’t have a lot of added sugar or flavoring) and lean meat.


Keep in mind, though, that not all fruits and veggies are good for people with IBS, and there are some other foods that may make IBS symptoms worse. Here’s a list of foods to avoid: 

  • Dairy products like milk and cheese

  • Cabbage

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Chocolate

  • Beans

  • Anything with sugar-free sweeteners

Stay Hydrated

It doesn’t matter what condition a patient has, drinking water seems to always be on the list of things to do in order to improve the condition. This is true of IBS as well. To help with regularity and to decrease the chances of bloating or discomfort, talk to your doctor about the amount of water he or she recommends you drink each day and stick to it. Also, try to avoid drinks that can dehydrate you or cause bloating, such as anything with alcohol, drinks with caffeine (like tea or coffee) and carbonated drinks like soda.


Dr. Ned Snyder III is the chief of Gastroenterology at Kelsey-Seybold. He sees patients at the Main Campus and the Pearland Clinic.  



Topics: IBS, managing IBS

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