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How to Control IBS Symptoms During Cold and Flu Season, Part 2

As if the sniffles, sore throat, or headaches weren’t bad enough with a cold or flu, many people with IBS also report the accompaniment of worsening IBS symptoms. Talk about a rough day! The IBS flare-up symptoms are likely a result of additional stress, lifestyle and diet changes, and exercise modifications during cold or flu – all of which undergo significant changes when sick!

Create an IBS-friendly sleep routine

Are you having trouble sleeping at night? A less than restful slumber is a common struggle among people with IBS. Common cold and flu-like symptoms may also prevent you from getting quality zzz’s.

Here are some ways to create a healthier sleep routine:1

  • Turn off phones and TV 30 minutes before going to bed to avoid light disruption.
  • Limit caffeine intake after lunch or whatever your personal cut-off time is that impacts your sleep. Avoid late afternoon or lengthy naps. If you’re really wiped out, try having a small cup of coffee and take a nap with a timer set for 30 minutes, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Make sure you’re adequately hydrated but don’t drink too much right before sleep.
  • Limit late dinners to give yourself plenty of time to digest.
  • Avoid doing other activities in bed besides sleeping. Working in bed or binge-watching your favorite series creates a mindset that your bed is for activities other than sleeping. The last thing you want is to turn your sleeping sanctuary into a stressful work environment.
  • Go to sleep around the same time every night (including weekends). If you’re tempted to stay up late watching TV on a Friday or Saturday night, go to bed on time and give yourself permission to watch an episode first thing in the morning while stretching!
  • Create a soothing routine before bed. This may include journaling, sipping on non-caffeinated tea, lighting a candle, reading a book, doing abdominal massages, or completing a relaxing skin-care routine.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of an eye mask, earplugs, or blackout shades. Even using dark post-it notes to cover alarm lights or other electronics could have a positive effect.

Maintain your standard diet and mealtime schedule to support IBS

People with IBS are no strangers to diet routines. Over time, you may have mastered the dos and don’ts of trigger foods. While fighting off a cold, it may be tempting to change your habits and routines. But, to minimize IBS flare-ups, it’s essential to stick to the plan. Don’t forget to add extra water and fluids while sick.

While working from home has become the new normal, it’s still essential to take your usual lunch break and give yourself time to rest and digest. It may feel as though the lines between work and home life have been blurred, which may be anxiety-provoking. Give yourself much-needed breaks during the day; they are more important than ever before!

When the pantry or fridge is just a quick step away, it may be tempting to turn to junk food. In these moments, reflect on whether you are physically hungry, bored, or need a mental break from your desk. Finally, ask yourself whether or not your body will agree with your food choices.

If you get sick

Unfortunately, the common cold and flu spread like rapid fire. Even if you are taking precautions with the right sleep and diet routines, you may become ill. Remember, the body works synergistically. In other words, a virus can affect your digestive system and ultimately exacerbated IBS symptoms. Not to mention the possibly heightened sense of stress and anxiety, which may further trigger symptoms. Take the time you need to rest and heal.

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