Feet wrapped in red and blue socks with a heating pad on top

Heat Therapy and IBS

Last year I posted about how hot/humid weather can aggravate my IBS (and flares my chronic pain in general). It's always been true. However, extreme cold can also aggravate my IBS and ironically, discrete applications of heat can actually be beneficial to my IBS in those instances.

For starters, I find that a heating pad placed on my abdomen offers some relief from intestinal cramps and spasms that abet IBS flares (whether on the -C or -D side of the spectrum), especially if that IBS flare is also occurring in tandem with menstrual pain and cramps.

The impact of cold weather on IBS

But that's not all. I notice in colder weather, my hands and feet tend to get very cold very easily, and lacks decent circulation. And sometimes if this goes on for very long, it starts to cause other problems in my body, including a potential IBS flare. Truthfully any stress or discomfort in my body, once it surpasses a certain level, brings with it the likelihood of provoking IBS symptoms. I noticed when my feet were frozen-feeling, the icy sensation spread up my legs and once it reached my waist, my bowels would start spasming. Not good.

Heat therapy for IBS

As such, I got into the habit of carrying heating pad with me. I put them on my feet to warm them up and it has a residual impact on my whole body. Or, I will hop into a warm shower or bath and that also seems to stave off a flare (it can't be too hot though, because then that can also cause issues). I also make sure to have warm socks on in winter and fleece legging or long underwear under my pants. The better protection from the cold offers me further protection from a flare, and also keeps me cozy. At night, my feet tend to get cold, so I keep a heating pad in the bed with me to place over my feet when that happens. This also helps me sleep better.

How about you? Do you find applied heat helps your IBS?

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