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Practical Tips for Supporting Someone with IBS

Whether you’re a caregiver, friend, or family member, understanding and assisting someone with IBS can be complex yet crucial for their well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips and strategies to offer meaningful support, foster empathy, and create an environment that promotes support and understanding. Because no one with IBS should have to suffer alone! 

Be a support person

Offer to attend their medical appointments for support and advocacy. Having IBS can be overwhelming and distressing. Unfortunately, the condition can be overlooked by many health practitioners and symptoms may not be taken seriously when test results return normal. Having a support person may help your loved one feel safe and more confident to advocate for themselves in the appointment. 

Provide relief 

When your loved one is struggling with their IBS, there are some simple thing you can do to help take the edge off and relieve some of the pain. Some tried and tested methods include heat packs or wheat bags, sipping on peppermint tea, taking pain killers or peppermint oil capsules. You may also like to ask them if there are simple foods or fluids they can tolerate whilst their feeling bloated or unwell. 

Be a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen

Be available to listen without judgment. It can feel very isolating and lonely having IBS as it feels like no one else around you understands what you’re going through. Knowing that you have people by your side, who offer a judgment-free shoulder to cry on can be hugely helpful.

Cater to their dietary needs 

This may change over time, but understand it’s likely more frustrating for them than it is for you. It means so much when people make an effort to cater to dietary requirements. It is common for people with IBS to withdraw from social occasions that involve food at the risk of not being able to eat anything, or being a hassle to those who are cooking.

If you’re stuck on ways to add flavour to food without onion and garlic, have a read of out blog post on Adding Flavour on the Low FODMAP Diet.

Help with day to day tasks or chores

If you’ve got the capacity to do so, help with day to day tasks that your loved one may need help with. Having IBS can be incredibly draining and there may be days where doing simple tasks like doing the washing are just too hard. Small gestures like this, show your loved one that you really are there for them and that you want to be able to support them wherever you can.

Encourage activities to promote positive physical and mental health

Encourage your loved one to take care of themselves. IBS is a challenging condition and is heavily linked to emotional, mental and physical health. When someone is deep in an IBS flare up, often self care activities fall off the radar, but this is when they’re crucial. Things like going out for a gentle walk, yoga, getting a massage, getting enough sleep, eating 3 meals a day, keeping hydrated and getting out of the house and connecting with friends can be a massive help.

If you’re reading this blog post, your loved one is lucky to have you in their life! At the end of the day, everyone is individual in what they need during an IBS flare up, so your best place to start would be to ask them what they need. If they have no clue, feel free to use some of these ideas to see if they find them helpful.

Published: 17th April 2024

Author: Kelsey Paterson, Monash FODMAP trained Dietitian

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