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Readers Respond: How Do You Get Through a Bad IBS Attack?

Responses: 46


Updated October 02, 2012

IBS attacks can be hard to deal with. Whatever your symptoms are -- painful abdominal cramps, frustrating constipation or urgent diarrhea -- episodes of severe symptoms can be debilitating. Besides taking medicine, what do you do to help yourself get through a bad attack? Do you tell others when you are hurting or do you try to keep it to yourself? Share your tips and learn some new ones by reading about what others do to deal with the disruptive nature of IBS attacks. Share Your Tips!


I was diagnosed with IBS when I was 21, I am now 44. When I was first diagnosed I learnt to control it with certain foods. The older I get the worse my IBS gets, I have had numerous tests, scans and doctors, had many days off work and have now been told to cut my hours, otherwise I won't be able to work in the future. My last severe attack saw me hospitilised for two weeks, loosing 6 kilos and collapsing on my bathroom floor , with paramedtics working on me for 90 minutes with no blood pressure. This was all from being sick diarrhea for months, not keeping anything in, even vomiting which was a new symptom , they say I was dehydrated and was also treated for sepsis. My new specialist has prescribed ulcers tablets and creon tablets before every meal which helps with enzymes, I have been really good of late. Hopefully this helps some people who have severe Ibs like myself .
—Guest Melissa

IBS I found a great pill that helps

If you take Allgn it really helps with the symptoms and it lessens the chances of it happening multiple times
—Guest marl303

Horrible pain

I'm 15 and I developed ibs about 6 months ago. The pain is unreal. I make a movement about once a week and when I do it's like it never wants to come out. On top of it, I'm lactose intolerant and it makes it even worse.
—Guest Guest Name

IBS attack

I have suffered with diarrhea and/or constipation for years. I finally went to a nutritionist and my life has changed. Keep a food log but you need to start with what we call "back to basics". This is eating... no grains, no white flour or sugar, no alcohol. I ate only meat, fish, chicken, fruit, and veggies. You've got to eliminate all food that irritated the stomach lining, until it heals. Then introduce one item to your diet. I found that leafy greens, brown rice, onions and any grains, ( even gluten free) cause diarrhea or constipation. I have lost a lot of weight ( one good side effect) and I have to be careful, if I don't want a flare up. But at least I feel in control. I am still working on it but I hope that soon, I'll be able to "cheat" every so often without serious repercussions. With everyone there will be different result. I hate that I cannot eat salads.
—Guest Pat

Different things

I use a soothing microwavable heat pack, a panadol (or two), and if called for, an Imodium or similar anti-diarrheal medication (especially for those occasions where stabbing pains and cramps wake me at 3am). Small sips of room temp water but only after its all settled down. Distract myself with other things. Taking deep, calming breaths helps. Also a strong multi-strain probiotic morning and night (I use Bio-Kult), and sometimes a warm bath or gentle belly massage. There's nothing to do but wait it out for the diarrhea, but holding heat bag on tummy, thinking positive, calming thoughts and deep breathing all help get through it. Avoid eating for a while to let it all settle down. Also, stick to low FODMAPs diet, or other diet you are on as much as possible, and avoid trigger foods. Seeing a naturopath can also help, as well as a dietician. Gentle exercise can help but not in the midst of an attack where you need the loo urgently.
—Guest Miranda


Garlic is my trigger and everything has garlic in these days! Ibroprofen, slippery elm tablets and a warm bath work best for me. It does take a while to settle down though.
—Guest Marilyn Chandler


I have an attack right now,it's been a few months so am doing better than at first, i am 63. And mine started three years ago, but have always had constipation all my life, they did all the usual tests, colonoscopy ,endoscopy etc because I had breast cancer 22 years ago, so had to rule out other things, I see a naturopath regularly, and through diet and de- stressing myself, it is mostly manageable, but like anyone else, one food slip can cause days of pain and more getting things settled down, to being able to eat well..I don't have constipation now or the runs, I have managed. To refine my diet to work pretty good mostly, but it is a chronic thing, I just want to encourage you all, that we can control it a lot, this is what i do when having an attack just rest, drink lots of water, and healing things like aloe Vera ,yoghurt with xtra probiotics, and homemade blended soup,made with zucchini,organic chicken broth and one yellow potatoe washed well to get rid of the starch:) best wishe
—Guest Alegna

Deep Breaths

I have had Ibs for atleast two years now, and it's terrible. I'm on a medication now to help me, but now and then I'll eat a little bit of chocolate or have a bowl of cereal with milk because of temptations. :(. Then my stomach gurggles and it hurts like crazy. I get nausea and cramps and pass a lot of gas :-/ but what helps is to breath in through your mouth (to avoid that rancid smell) and out through both your mouth and nose like you would to relax. When it's night time (and it's mostly the end of the day when I get an attack) lay on your most comfortable side and put a pillow under your head for support. Wrap your arms around your legs and hug them to your chest. It reduces cramping and eases nausea. Also take deep breaths then. If you get more pain as you try to sleep, GET UP! I learned the hard way that when you get the pain, you HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO get up and get it all out in the bathroom. Hopes this helps, fellow sufferers!
—Guest Catlin

My life is IBS

Every morning, its the same thing. I'm awaken with the stomach rumbling, and know I have about 5 seconds to make it to the throne. This goes on until about 9 to 10 am. Sometimes I know to hurry, but most times, it just pours out of me--no notice, rumble, pain or nasha. And, its not watery. It's like someone put the pop in a blender until it was smooth enough to just pour out. My doctor said to take Metamucil with every meal. It does not make a difference. I am 70 years old. When I was in India and 20, I had this for a year. When I came back to the States, it stopped. 50 years later it's back. I believe it started again with food poisoning I had in Hawaii 3 years ago. I have a cruise/trip to Mediterranean in July......am I going to be able to go? This has got to stop!!!
—Guest Nancy

IBS attacks

I am 12 years old and I have has IBS since I was 3. I am just recently getting through diarrhea stomach pain and constipation I am eating lots of greens and taking my medicine.
—Guest Me

Please Help

I went to the hospital a day ago, all they did was put me on IV's. I'm fourteens year old and have had it constantly 3 days now. I can't stop the diarrhea (which is very water) and it hurts like sh*t. Toast stopped it for a while. I can't keep any food or water down and the most sleep I've gotten is 5 hours. I really don't know what to do, I feel guilty for wanting to go to the hospital again, because I know all they'd do is give me more IV's and it's expensive.
—Guest Allison

Make the cramps stop!!

Hi, my name is Karen and I've had IBS-D for 9 yrs. Some days I have no symptoms and some days I'm running to the bathroom every 10 minutes with diarrhea and severe spasms in my intestines. I have been to the best Hospital and Dr. in New York City, yet they couldn't help me. So, I took it upon myself to do trial and error. I started taking 2 herbs, Triphala (2 capsules) with pomegranate juice in the morning, a 1/2 an hr. before breakfast. I'll eat either oatmeal or a potato with 3 egg whites then take my other herb, lemon balm. Lemon balm is a great calming herb. It has helped me a lot, except for today. I was sick for over 2 hours and took everything I had in the house to stop the diarrhea and cramps (triphala, lemon balm, immodium, peppermint tea, fennel seed tea, a piece of xanax and a heating pad) Not one of them helped!! I feel so drained and I drank some gatorade which helped with my nausea. I can't do anything but sit when i get a bad attack. This really sucks! =(


i am only 13 and have IBS. I have attacks nearly every other day. the medication helps sometimes but what I do to help is take a bath or lay on my side but even that sometimes doesn't help.
—Guest katrina

Prevention is best

I hardly have them now, but when I do I typically wait out the diarhea attacks (which are usually over in a couple of hours) and I take stool softeners for constipation attacks. I also take my diet more seriously for a while. Mostly I prevent them by avoiding foods with too much fructose vs other sugars. Soda is ok, unless I recently had an attack. Apples, grapes and honey are always big triggers for me. That diet change made my attacks so rare that I don't technically have IBS anymore. Before I tried that I was trying to eat a diet heavy in starch and low in meat & veggies, but that only helped a little. Once I cut out high-fructose foods, I found meat and veggies didn't upset my guts anymore. I still get attacks about every 2-3 months. I'm thinking about giving up whole wheat to try and avoid even more of them. The pain is so bad. One time my vision went black, though I've never passed out. I'm scared to leave the house during the constipation attacks because of the cramping.
—Guest Jean

making it thru without going to ER

my ibs only occurs 1 or 2 times a year for the last 5 years. no rhyme or reason as to why i get. 1st time was in and out of hospital 3 times in 7 days. over the last 5 years i have had 7 bouts. only option 1st few times was go to ER due to severe abdominal cramps, dry heaves so bad the only thing that made me feel better was taking sips of water so i could throw something up. this would last for hours upon hours. my issue, all you get at ER and what i need to get thru the 3-4 days battle is an IV and pain meds. WE DO NOT NEED ER OR DRs, as both already have said they do not know what is wrong with us exactly..so what specialist do i need to see?. ANYWAY, here is what you do. drink the newer types of Electrolite waters they have available, powerade and vitawater are good...then luckily for me i had some old pain meds and some Xanax. i crushed up one pain med and 2 Xanax. was able to get sleep and keep fluids down. but no solids for 3+ days.
—Guest brian-stl

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How Do You Get Through a Bad IBS Attack?

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  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  4. Daily Life with IBS
  5. Reader Stories: Living with IBS
  6. Tips for Getting Through IBS Attacks

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