What to do when your IBS Flares up
I find it interesting to note that, even when you have your condition stabilized and know what not to eat, sometimes you can be hit by a flare-up anyway. I only say this because that is exactly what happened to me as I was researching and writing the content for this blog. However, please don’t take this to mean that it’s hopeless. That is not what I want you to take from this. Once you find out your trigger foods and avoid them, 90% of the time you will be just fine. Once in a while you may get your symptoms back for a day or two. At least for me, it DOES happen. And I can’t trace it back to anything that I ate. But, I know how to treat an acute flare-up, and I am already feeling better after just one bad day, so there is that light at the end of the tunnel.
Since I am not feeling 100% today, I will keep this post short. I will share with you what I do when I have that acute flare-up. When I feel so nauseous that I don’t want anything to eat or to drink. When I feel so weak and dizzy that I just want to sleep. Or even if I don’t sleep, I am content to lay still. I just don’t want to move.
When you have that acute IBS flare-up, this is what I recommend:
- DON’T get dehydrated. One danger is that you will get dehydrated, since even sips of water seem to upset your stomach. Dehydration will make you feel even more ill. Be aware of this and try to sip water all through the day. Room temperature water is best. I also find that peppermint tea is tolerable, or ginger tea if you like it. No milk in it. It’s OK to sweeten it a bit if you like with whatever is your choice of sweetener.
- Follow the BRAT diet. This is what our family doctor used to recommend when my kids were sick, and I find that it works for me too when my stomach is upset. These are things that are very easy to digest and are very unlikely to upset your stomach. BRAT stands for:
o Applesauce (or apple juice or apple slices)
- Eat small amounts several times during the day.
- Let yourself rest. Just lay around if you feel weak. Don’t push yourself to go to work or to do the housework or anything you don’t absolutely have to do. Your body will tell you that it needs rest. Listen to it.
- Sleep as much as you need to. Nap if you feel like it. Again, your body will tell you what you need.
- If you have a lot of acid reflux, it’s OK to chew Tums or Rolaids every few hours. As a last resort, I take some Pepto Bismal. It always helps, but be aware that it turns your tongue and your stool black (it isn’t anything to worry about), and if you take more than one dose in a day, it may worsen constipation if that is a problem for you.
A word about Pepto Bismal: My son is a Pharmacist, and we have many discussions about what is, and what is not OK for over the counter meds like Pepto. I travel quite a bit, and often have trouble with my symptoms flaring up when I am away from home, even when I am careful about what I eat. He said that it is OK to take Pepto Bismal every day during travel as a preventative medicine. The stress of travel, and even different water can trigger symptoms, and the Bismuth in Pepto can help to prevent the stomach ache and diarrhea that may be the result. So, I always take Pepto daily when I travel, starting with the day before I leave. I also take it when I have a flare-up even when I am at home.
For travel, you can get the Pepto pills that you swallow or the chewable tablets. I usually take both with me since they are easier to deal with than the liquid, especially if you are taking the plane and only doing carry-on. The pills don’t turn your tongue black like the chewables and the liquid, so I prefer them, but I also carry the chewables in my purse in case I need them and don’t have any water handy. Take one dose each day, in the morning, and if your symptoms are still bothering you, take another dose in the evening. I also take Metamucil in the evening, which helps to prevent constipation. If all else fails, make sure to have some glycerin suppositories on hand if you need them.
I’d love to hear from some of you to see what you do when you are having a flare-up. What helps you?
And here is your homework – click the link below to get the information on the elimination diet that everyone should do at least once. I will talk more about this tomorrow. For now, just read it over. That’s it for today. Here’s hoping you are feeling well.
This is the URL – http://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/file/11270/handout_elimination_diet_patient.pdfPrinter Friendly Version