If you're among the estimated one in five South Africans who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you know how discomforting it can be. Sometimes it's so disabling that you're unable to work, go to social events, or even travel short distances.
The disorder, which interferes with the normal functions of the large intestine (colon), is characterised by a group of symptoms - crampy abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. These symptoms can be aggravated by large meals, bloating from gas in the colon, medications or eating/drinking certain products such as wheat, rye, barley, chocolate, milk, caffeinated drinks or alcohol. Stress, which may be more difficult to manage, can also be a trigger. The American National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) suggests these methods to manage stress:
- Use relaxation therapies, such as meditation.
- Seek private counselling or support groups.
- Get regular exercise, such as walking or yoga.
- Change a stressful situation in your life.
- Get adequate sleep.