As part of IBS Awareness Month this month, we’ve been encouraging our community to take their IBS back to basics.

Whether you have just been diagnosed with IBS, or have had the condition for years, coming out of this unprecedented year, we thought it would be a good time to take time to reflect on how you manage your condition. By going back to basics, you may be able to identify new ways you can better manage your symptoms and minimise your flare-ups.

Even if you think you’ve tried everything and nothing works, we recommend trying again. We know from members of our community that it is possible to live well with IBS, with positivity, determination and focus, you too will get there.

And yes, while it may be a little frightening and challenging at times, you can take control of your condition, rather than your condition controlling you.

To help you, our IBS experts have shared their top tips for living well with IBS.

“I would say, work out what works for you and don’t be swayed by other people. I really believe the saying ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ is critical to those of us with IBS.  Loads of FODMAP friendly/IBS diet recipes, include things which make me really ill, whilst other things I can have no problem.” – Jenny, IBS patient.

“Don’t ignore the potential positive impact of good sleep and regular exercise that makes you out of breath.” – Dr Simon Smale, gastroenterologist.

“Remember, IBS symptoms are individual and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Choose what treatment you try, depending on your symptoms.” – Julie Thompson, specialist gastro-dietitian.

“If excluding certain foods to help with your IBS symptoms is causing you stress, any potential improvement from avoiding the trigger foods is likely to be counteracted. Exclusion diets are often stressful and stress can often provoke IBS symptoms, so ask your care provider to refer you to a dietitian for support!” – Monika Bettney, specialist gastro-dietitian.

“Try and find a doctor, general practitioner or consultant, who takes IBS seriously, otherwise you will always be disappointed.  Despite the huge burden that IBS can place upon you, it is always worth waiting to see someone who will listen.” – Dr Peter Whorwell, gastroenterologist.

“Daily relaxation exercises.” – Dr Maria Eugenicos, gastroenterologist.

“Never underestimate the beneficial effect of deep breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) on the gut.  It relaxes your gut-brain axis, can calm your gut muscles and stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system which helps you “rest and digest”.  Start small with 2-5 minutes per day and build up from there. Doing these exercises daily is what counts.”- Jennifer Ryan, specialist gastro-dietitian.

“Stay hopeful. It’s easy for IBS to really get you down but I think believing that a better day is round the corner is a big help.” – Bronwen Barber, support group leader.