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Holiday Tips for Coping With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Somewhere between 25 and 45 million people in the United States suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic condition that causes lower intestinal problems, discomfort, and pain. Symptoms can include cramping, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

The reason why people get IBS isn’t clear and there’s no cure for the condition, but you can definitely manage it in order to create a better quality of life. This is harder when the holidays roll around because there’s so much extra food that can exacerbate your IBS, and routines and events are not normal.

Let our first-class team at North Texas Internal Medical Specialists guide you through the holiday season with these tips and ideas to keep your IBS at bay:

Plan ahead

You can avoid many problems if you plan ahead for the holiday events you know are coming. If you’re going to a party, for instance, eat a small meal before you go. This will help curb your hunger so you don’t immediately start eating food at the party that causes your IBS to flare up. 

If you’re going to be in public, it’s always smart to be aware of where the bathrooms are in case you have an issue. Keep your eyes open, or there are smartphone apps that help you find clean facilities nearby.

Travel smarter

If you’re traveling for the holidays, try to plan your travel around your IBS. If you often go to the bathroom early in the morning, for example, try to book a later flight so your bowels have a chance to settle in for the day. If you’re booking seats on a plane or train, always choose an aisle seat so you have quick access to the restroom.

Pack IBS-friendly food

As you travel, or even as you go through the holidays, carry some IBS-friendly food in case you get stuck or don’t have a chance to eat. The high-fat fast food so readily available can cause a flare-up of your condition, which you don’t want to risk. Having some tried-and-true snacks with you that you know won’t cause a problem will give you peace of mind.

Pack an emergency bag

You should also keep a few emergency essentials with you in case you do have a problem and can’t make it to the bathroom in time. This can save you a lot of embarrassment. Include an extra pair of underwear, dark sweatpants, and moist towelettes. 

Simplify holiday shopping

Stress is one of the major triggers for IBS, so plan to keep yourself out of stressful shopping situations. Try to get your shopping done early, before the crowds get worse, or think about doing most of your shopping online from the comfort of your home.

Distract yourself

Parties are terrible places to eat if you suffer from IBS. The food is delicious, but most of it will probably trigger your IBS symptoms. If you’re tempted by something fatty or an alcoholic drink, try walking away to another room, chewing gum, or jumping into a conversation with someone. You can also bring your favorite IBS-friendly food to the party.

Don’t forget to relax

One of the best ways to control your IBS is to take some time to relax. The holidays are one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year, so scheduling some quiet alone time can help you relax and recharge.

Dr. Mihaela Perijoc at North Texas Internal Medicine Specialists is an expert at helping patients ease IBS discomfort and create a sustainable plan to manage their IBS. Contact the office in Plano, Texas, today to set up an appointment and develop your plan for the holiday season!

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