If you’re one of the more than 15 million people in the U.S. suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’ll be glad to know that relief may be on its way. IBS has been somewhat difficult to diagnose and treat because it can manifest in different ways, with a combination of abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence and/or cramping. Recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine looked into the use of an antibiotic called rifaximin (the same antibiotic used to treat traveler’s diarrhea) to treat people with IBS without constipation with some promising results.
Although the research indicates rifaximin might help this subset of people with IBS, more research must be conducted before putting it to regular use. And there could be some negative side effects; while antibiotics fortunately kill harmful bacteria in the gut, they could also kill our gut’s healthy bacteria.
If you suffer from that feeling that your intestines are doing gymnastics inside of you–also known as IBS–a natural way to start to find relief is to keep a food and symptoms diary. Keep track of everything you eat and drink, including the times that you ate and any emotions you were feeling (things like stress can cause stomach upset in certain people). Also, write down which IBS symptoms you have and when you have them. It is possible that you might be able to identify if you have food “triggers.” For example, spicy or greasy foods might make prompt symptoms, or dairy might bloat you. Take your food and symptoms diary to a registered dietitian (RD) to help decode your stomach woes. The RD might also suggest you try drinking more fluids or consuming more fiber.