If you get sick from a stomach infection, there are important steps that you need to take to help increase the probability that you will experience a rapid and complete recovery. Why the necessity? Experiencing an acute GI infection raises your risk of developing ongoing digestive symptoms, a condition called post infectious IBS (IBS-PI). Follow these simple guidelines to reduce your risk.
Seems easy enough, but face it -- many of us decide we are too busy to take proper care of ourselves. You may need to re-think this. One well-designed study found a clear link between activity level and the later onset of IBS. Patients who developed IBS following an acute GI illness were less likely to rest in response to initial symptoms and more likely to remain active throughout the course of the illness.
Don’t Suppress Vomiting
In a classic Seinfeld episode, Jerry speaks proudly of his no-vomiting record. Don’t follow his lead. Vomiting is part of the body’s own defenses against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. In studies of one specific bacteria, patients who experienced vomiting during the acute stage of their illness had their risk of developing IBS-PI reduced by half.
Keep Your Stress Level Low
Research is consistently finding a relationship between high levels of anxiety and stress around the time of the initial illness and the risk of ongoing symptoms. It is thought that this relationship might extend for up to three months before the onset of the illness. Although we may have little control over the stressful events that pop up in our lives, using active relaxation and stress management strategies can help to reduce the effect that the outside stress has on our insides.
Think Happy Thoughts
As far-fetched as it may seem, what we think can affect how we feel. Patients who are pessimistic about their illness and their symptoms appear to be at higher risk for ongoing problems. If you get ill, think positive thoughts about your illness. Talk to yourself like a loving parent, reassuring yourself that you will be “all better soon.”
Spence, M. & Moss-Morris, R. “ The cognitive behavioural model of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective investigation of patients with gastroenteritis" Gut 2007 56:1066-1071.
Spiller, R. “ Postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome” Gastroenterology 2003 124:1662-1671.
Spiller, R. “Post-infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Sub-Type of Irritable Bowel Syndrome” International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Fact Sheet.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.