Most Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers live in fear of an IBS attack. The main concern is developing symptoms when they are at their most vulnerable in public or not near a toilet or bathroom.
My clients often tell me that this is the one thing that they fear the most and have to take steps to avoid a attack occurring when going out. They also tell me that they plan their life around toilets and make sure when they go out in public that they have a mental note of the toilets available to them should they need one.
An attack can involve any of the symptoms of IBS. Most people fear an attack when travelling or out in public, particulalry diarrhea and abdominal pain. Symptoms of wind, bloating and constipation are more manageable in this situation, but it is the urgent need to have a bowel movement that causes the biggest issue.
There are many things that can precipitate an attack. The fear and anxiety of such an event in itself can actually make the situation worse. There are many triggers for an attack and these may include:
Coffee, Tea, Alcohol
Stress and Worry
This is a large subject and covered in detail on this website. I will highlight some of the areas to find more details about preventing attacks in due course, but first I would like to talk to you about the best ways of handling an attack before it even arises!
I have already mentioned that most fear an attack occurring when out in public or travelling, so how can you reduce this fear? A lot of sufferers I meet say they take an antidiarrheal medication such as Loperamide (Imodium) or Diphenoxylate. This is fine if you are not driving, but you do need to be aware that these medicines can cause drowsiness so they do need to be taken with caution.
Make sure when travelling you are aware of the toilets that you have available to you as this will help to reduce the fear of incontinence occurring. Some sufferers have told me they have even worn incontinence pads. This may seem extreme, but it takes away fear and embarrassment. By doing so, this can actually lessen your chance of having an IBS attack.
Most sufferers find their IBS symptoms are worse in the mornings. It seems sensible in this situation to avoid travelling in the mornings if your symptoms are worse at this time.
Attacks in women are more likely to occur around the time of your period. This is a proven fact and you can read more about this by going to the IBS and menstruation page. Avoiding travelling around the time of your period (which is usually although not always predictable) seems a sensible option too.
Having discussed ways of managing the acute situation, I would now like to turn your attention to preventing an attack in the longer term. There are many treatment options and I would strongly advise you to look at each of these in detail. Whilst one treatment option is good for one sufferer, it isn't the case for all. You really need to look at each of these and I have summarised them for you on the treatment page.
Diet is one of the best long-term strategies for preventing attack symptoms. Certain foods can precipitate an attack and these are outlined for you on the IBS diet page. This page will also give you the best diet options for your type of IBS.
I hope you have found the above information helpful. I would love to hear from you as to the steps you take in avoiding an IBS attack. Share in the IBS Help Online Forum at the bottom of the page.