Your workday is demanding enough without adding cramps, bloating, gas, and urgent trips to the restroom at the most inopportune times. But irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) leaves you with no choice. Or does it?
Dr. Darrien Gaston and our Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates do more than treat your IBS; we help you get through your daily life — even at work. Here are four ways to outsmart IBS and get from 9 to 5 without losing your dignity.
1. Tell someone
You’ve spent years covering up your IBS and trying to go unnoticed, but that alone can be stressful enough to trigger an IBS flare-up. If you trust your boss or supervisor, telling them can relieve a lot of anxiety. They may even look into ways to accommodate you when you have IBS flare-ups.
If not a boss, tell a trusted coworker who can keep you in the loop when you miss a meeting or cover for you when you need to duck out of a meeting unexpectedly.
2. Manage your IBS
The first step toward managing IBS symptoms at work is self-care. Learning about your triggers, monitoring symptoms, and adjusting your habits are crucial to self-management.
Seeking professional medical treatment is also key. Dr. Gaston specializes in diagnosing and treating IBS and can help you with a combination of diet changes, stress management, and medication. Prescription medications, over-the-counter remedies, and natural supplements can effectively manage IBS symptoms.
3. Reduce stress and anxiety
You already know that high stress and anxiety levels can worsen your IBS symptoms, so finding ways to manage them can keep your IBS symptoms to a minimum at work.
Try techniques like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and yoga, and consider seeking support from a mental health professional if necessary.
4. Be prepared for IBS
Preventing IBS flare-ups is the best way to get through your workday without incident. Watching your workplace diet is one of the easiest ways to avoid IBS problems, starting with understanding which foods trigger your symptoms.
Skip the lunch cart and bypass the vending machine. Instead, pack your own meals so you know you’re eating food that won't worsen your symptoms.
Stay hydrated throughout the day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can trigger your IBS symptoms.
Finally, always be prepared for an IBS flare-up. Keep an “IBS emergency kit” at work, including items like over-the-counter medications, a change of clothes, and wet wipes. Having a packed kit like this gives you peace of mind and helps you manage any unexpected symptoms and continue your day with minimal disruption.
Call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in Chicago, Illinois, to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gaston, an expert in IBS care, and more tips about living with the symptoms.