Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) means you deal with unpredictable bathroom issues. You never know when you’ll have to duck out of a meeting to rush to the restroom or cancel a date due to embarrassing gas and bloating.
Like all IBS sufferers, you need immediate relief from acute flare-ups, but you also want to know that there’s an end in sight. Dr. Darrien Gaston, our board-certified specialist at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants, understands your frustration and offers the latest treatments for IBS, which is why so many Chicagoans trust him to manage their symptoms.
Although every patient has a unique combination of symptoms, they all have one thing in common — they want to know if IBS will go away on its own. In short, is it curable? Here’s what you need to know.
Will IBS go away on its own?
Let’s start by defining the difference between curable and incurable conditions.
We consider a condition curable if a treatment or procedure can eliminate the problem completely and permanently. For example, if you cut your finger and it becomes infected, antibiotics can eradicate the bacteria and cure the infection, and it won’t return.
Incurable conditions may respond to treatment and even go into remission but never truly disappear. For example, alcoholism and other substance abuse disorders are treatable, and you can recover from the disease, but the condition stays with you for life.
IBS is one of many incurable conditions.
Unfortunately, if you have IBS, you will always have IBS. It won’t go away on its own, and there’s yet no treatment that will banish it forever.
Now, for the good news.
You can manage and minimize your IBS symptoms
One of the most important things to learn about IBS is that you have the power to control the frequency and intensity of your symptoms. Although researchers still can pinpoint the root cause of IBS, we know a lot about what triggers flare-ups, and the more you know about what triggers your symptoms, the better off you’ll be.
Watch what you eat
It probably comes as no surprise that your diet affects your IBS. Everything you eat has the potential to nourish and heal or irritate and set off your IBS symptoms. Here’s a partial list of the most common culprits:
- Carbonated drinks
- Alcohol (especially red wine)
- Dairy products
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.)
- Beans and legumes
- Citrus fruits
You may not be sensitive to all these foods and drinks, but knowing which ones affect you give you an advantage in your fight against IBS. Avoiding your triggers can significantly decrease episodes of gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Stress sets off a chain reaction in your body. Whether facing a life-threatening situation or daily hassles at work or home, your system reacts by pumping out a flood of cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones that exacerbate IBS.
Because cortisol and adrenaline activate your sympathetic nervous system, they can affect your ability to digest food by slowing down or speeding up your metabolism. Researchers call this the gut-brain axis, and it’s a two-way street: stress can cause gut problems, and your problems in your gut can cause stress.
That’s why managing your stress could calm your IBS symptoms. Practicing deep-breathing techniques, meditation, praying, exercising, yoga, and other mindful activities can reduce stress, control cortisol and adrenaline, and ease your IBS symptoms.
Treatments that manage and minimize IBS symptoms
You don’t have to deal with IBS alone. Dr. Gaston offers several treatments that complement your at-home efforts to curb your IBS symptoms.
Depending on the type and severity of your symptoms, he may recommend medications or supplements to ease gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Probiotics may also help balance your gut enzymes and help you keep your symptoms at bay for a long time.
You can't cure IBS, but you can control it. Call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, Illinois, to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gaston and get a personalized IBS treatment plan that can unshackle you from your symptoms.