Health

How to keep irritable bowel syndrome at bay during the holiday season

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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It is necessary to manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and keep it under control by preventing exposure to the triggers, particularly during the holiday season.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disease of the intestine. Although it is a chronic condition, it does not increase the risk of colon cancer or cause any life threatening complication. It is a common condition and affects 6-18 percent of the patients. It is estimated that 20-40 percent of the world’s population suffers from it at some point of time. And it would help you to be prepared by knowing that the condition may flare up during a holiday season like Christmas and New Year.

Itching to know more? Read on!

What are some of the ways in which you can prevent irritable bowel syndrome?

It is a chronic condition. The symptoms of this condition are bloating, abdominal pain, cramps, constipation, and/or diarrhea. The symptoms are exacerbated during the festival season, with increased indulgence in food. That’s because people generally step out for parties and get-togethers! As a result, they are exposed to triggers that may flare up the condition. Some measures may help them to enjoy the festival without any discomfort.

What are some of the flared-up symptoms?

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome should be able to identify and determine the symptoms associated with the condition. It will help in the early and effective control of symptoms. The patient should understand that their bowel is more sensitive than other individuals. Stimulants such as alcohol, certain foods, and coffee (the food is different for individuals) may trigger symptoms.

How to manage irritable bowel syndrome?

1. Managing travel time

Patients with irritable bowl syndrome should adjust their travel time according to their routine bowel movements, which may not be easy most of the time. People with bowel evaluation time in the morning should avoid morning flights. It should be noted that irregular bowel movements in patients may cause constipation and discomfort throughout the day. In case of no other option but to travel, request a seat near the washroom. 

2. Always have a small snack before stepping out

Eat-in small quantities, before going out for a party. It is because when you reach a party, you will not be super-hungry and avoid overeating. Overeating may also cause several IBS symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, cramping, and constipation.

 irritable bowel syndrome
Eat right for a healthy bowel movement. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Scan places in advance

During Christmas, a lot of people go shopping and attend parties. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome should locate the facilities in advance, while visiting such places. It will help in early access to the washroom in case of sudden bowel movements. Some mobile applications may also assist you in locating the washroom facilities.

4. Take your food with you

Always prefer to take food along with you. Patients with the condition know what type of food may trigger their symptoms. Thus, it is necessary to carry IBS-friendly food that is different for each individual. Unfortunately, you may get stuck at the airport due to delayed flights, and may depend on restaurant food, which is not a good option.

5. Do not forget to carry water

Dehydration may cause the flare-up of symptoms. Intake of sufficient water improves symptoms by managing digestion. Also, water improves constipation and prevents dehydration due to diarrhea. 

6. Limit the intake of outside food

During the festive season, you may find many tempting foods around you. Always watch what you are eating. It’s the hygiene and to an extent a few triggers specific to certain individuals. Also, avoid carbonated beverages, food high in fructose, caffeine, and chewing gum containing artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol and sorbitol.

 irritable bowel syndrome
Say no to junk or fried foods! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Always carry an emergency bag with you

It would be best to keep an emergency bag with you that has all the essentials. It will help you avoid any embarrassment that might occur if you cannot locate the washroom. For example, the emergency bag may contain exercise pants, spare undergarments, and emergency medications.

8. Take out time to de-stress

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome must take out some time for themselves to de-stress. Excessive stress may worsen the symptoms of IBS. Yoga and meditation may help in managing the symptoms.  A short walk is also a good idea!

9. Enjoy to the fullest

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome should prepare themselves ahead of the Christmas and New Year season. They should be mentally and physically prepared. Patients must note that IBS is just a condition, like any other condition, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Keeping control of your diet and avoiding the triggers will help you have fun during the holiday season!

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