Can you cure IBS overnight? Treatments and remedies
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can have many symptoms, including pain, cramping, and constipation. You may have symptoms after eating certain foods or in times of stress.
There is no cure for IBS. You can, however, use some relief remedies to help get rid of symptoms quickly. Medications combined with long-term lifestyle strategies can help improve your quality of life.
How to relieve IBS symptoms quickly
While you probably can’t cure IBS in one day, you may be able to reduce the severity of symptoms quickly.
IBS is different for everyone, but common symptoms include:
- stomach pain and cramps
- bloating and gas
Relieving stomach pain and cramping
Eating smaller, more frequent meals may help prevent abdominal cramping. Daily stress relief, like exercise, yoga, or meditation, may help reduce IBS pain.
Many IBS medications can help with abdominal pain from IBS. Prescription medications to reduce stomach pain include antispasmodics and tricyclic antidepressants.
- glycopyrrolate (Cuvposa)
- propantheline (Pro-Banthine)
- belladonna alkaloid combinations and phenobarbital (Donnatal, Phenohytro)
Over-the-counter (OTC) peppermint oil capsules may also help.
There are various remedies for constipation.
Fiber supplements are a common treatment for easing constipation. Psyllium (Metamucil) is an OTC product that can provide quick relief.
Consider adding fiber to your diet gradually. Slowly increasing your fiber intake may help prevent gas and bloating as your body adjusts to the change.
Your doctor may also recommend prescription medications for constipation:
You can also discuss other options with your doctor, such as laxatives to help with constipation.
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If you have frequent diarrhea, you may get dehydrated. Increasing your water intake to 6 – 8 glasses daily can keep you hydrated, although it may not stop diarrhea.
Loperamide (Imodium) is a common OTC medication for diarrhea.
Your doctor can also provide prescription medications like:
Relieving bloating and gas
Changing your diet may help to reduce bloating and gas from IBS. It may be tough to cure this symptom of IBS in one day, but lifestyle changes may help over time.
These lifestyle factors may help:
- finding the right balance of fiber intake to prevent constipation and not cause gas
- eating small, regular meals slowly
- avoiding sitting too much during the day, and taking time to move
You can ask a pharmacist or a doctor if OTC remedies for gas are safe and effective to use if you have IBS.
Can IBS be cured?
There is no cure for IBS. The treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.
Some interventions, like the low-FODMAP diet, can significantly reduce bloating and abdominal pain. However, even if a person’s quality of life improves, they will still have IBS.
Mental health strategies can also help reduce symptoms. Options include:
- cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
- relaxation training
Mental health strategies should be guided by a qualified professional. You may want to ask a doctor for a recommendation.
How to avoid triggers
Stress is a common trigger for IBS. A 2017 study found an association between higher anxiety levels and IBS symptoms. Practicing relaxation and stress relief may help you to avoid IBS symptoms.
Some foods are common triggers. You can start by learning your personal triggers for IBS symptoms. Try logging what you eat in a journal and noting any symptoms you experience.
Some common food triggers of IBS include:
- milk and dairy products
- caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda
- carbonated drinks with artificial sweeteners
- certain vegetables and fruits
A low-FODMAP diet may also reduce IBS symptoms. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, it takes several weeks to introduce a low-FODMAP diet. The steps are:
- eliminating all FODMAP foods for 2 to 4 weeks
- reintroducing FODMAPs one at a time and monitoring symptoms
- eliminating the specific FODMAPs that cause symptoms
The list of FODMAPs is long. Examples of high-FODMAP foods are:
- chai tea
Since following a low-FODMAP diet can be complicated, you may want to work with a doctor or dietician before you make changes.
There’s no cure for IBS, but you may find symptom relief through diet changes, stress reduction, and mental health strategies.
You can take many medications to help with the effects of IBS, like stomach pain and cramping. A doctor can help you find the right prescription or OTC remedy.
- Banerjee A, et al. (2017). Anxiety and depression in irritable bowel syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5733421/
- Bloating. (n.d.). https://aboutibs.org/signs-and-symptoms/recognizing-symptoms/bloating-in-ibs/
- Eswaran S. (2021). Low-FODMAP diet: Overview. https://gi.org/topics/low-fodmap-diet/
- Irritable bowel syndrome. (2021). https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/irritable-bowel-syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). (n.d.). https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs
- Irritable bowel syndrome: What is IBS? (2021). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/
- Symptoms and causes of irritable bowel syndrome. (2017). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes
- Treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. (2017). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/treatment