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The Best IBS Treatments, According to Gastroenterologists

Photo: Apatow Productions

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a tricky condition. For starters, symptoms vary between each patient and can even shift over time. IBS — “a disorder of how your brain and gut interact with each other,” according to Dr. Johanna Iturrino-Moreda, a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center — typically presents with constipation or diarrhea or, in some cases, both, as well as bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. There’s also no clear cause for IBS, though Iturrinio-Moreda says it’s “sometimes triggered by a stressful life event, a gastrointestinal infection, frequent antibiotic use, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or even food intolerances and sensitivities.”

All of this can make IBS difficult to diagnose, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. “IBS is a real disease, and patients should not be embarrassed to talk about it. It’s not in their head, they’re not imagining it, and there is real help out there to take care of it,” says Dr. Lawrence Brandt, a gastroenterologist at the Montefiore Medical Center. And once your doctor has diagnosed you with IBS, you can move forward with creating an appropriate treatment plan — which can include changing your diet and going on a low FODMAP diet to limit sugars that aren’t well-absorbed by the gut, or taking over-the-counter or prescription medication. But if you’re still looking for additional assistance, these over-the-counter remedies may ease some of the day-to-day symptoms (though it’s always good to check with your doctor if you have more serious concerns).

For gas, bloating, and abdominal pain