Building Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Survival Kit: 7 Must-Have Items for Managing Flare-Ups
My own story of living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was challenging, because the symptoms would significantly impact my daily life. And at times I'd try to ignore them, and others I'd be trying everything I could think of.
I get asked a lot when I run sessions or on social media for advice I'd give to others with IBS so here's my IBS Survival Kit suggestions to help you navigate through flare-ups more comfortably.
This is my guide to assembling a collection of essential items that can provide relief and support during IBS episodes.
1. The 'Just Can't Wait' Card and Key
One of the most common and distressing symptoms of IBS is the urgent need to find a toilet. The 'Just Can't Wait' card and key is a small, discreet tool that can be used to gain quick access to public toilets when you're in a hurry.
It's for your own peace of mind, so you have less anxiety about going out and can manage unexpected emergencies without the added burden of rushing in an unfamiliar place.
You can buy the key here from the IBS Network Charity website.
2. Hot Water Bottles in Different Shapes and Sizes
Abdominal pain and cramping are often experienced during IBS flare-ups.
A hot water bottle can be incredibly soothing, providing warmth and comfort to your belly. It's my go-to item, and being Scottish, TBH I just find them comforting in the cold weather anyway.
Invest in a selection of hot water bottles in various shapes and sizes to cater to different areas of discomfort.
The heat can help relax the muscles and relieve pain, allowing you to find some relief from the symptoms.
I have so many but my fave is a long one I got about 2 years ago from Amazon so I don't have a specific recommendation.
Be warned - you usually need to replace your hot water bottles every 3 years - check inside the opening of the hot water water for the date - don't use if it's past the date as the rubber can cause burns.
3. Clothing with Stretch Fabric
Bloating is a common with IBS, which can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance, while dealing with being really uncomfortable.
So my IBS survival tip is wearing clothes that have a bit of give in them - stretchy fabrics such as elastane or spandex.
These materials can accommodate fluctuations in your waistline, providing a comfortable and flattering fit while feeling like you're not going to explode.
4. Bottle of Water
I can't say this enough... hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Hydration is vital in managing your IBS symptoms. Carrying a bottle of water at all times is a no brainer.
Staying hydrated can help regulate digestion, prevent constipation, and reduce the severity of IBS symptoms - and can replace lost fluids from urgent diarrhoea.
And you don't need me to tell you that choose a reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout the day, keeping yourself hydrated wherever you go - but also not causing extra plastic bottles to damage our beaut of a planet.
5. Gut Wealth liquid supplements
Our Gut Wealth supplements are designed to help calm digestive upset, maintain good gut health and help reduce inflammation, bloating and improve bowel movements.
It's why we're the trusted choice for better gut health and have over 400 customer reviews (and counting)
Bacteria-based supplements introduce beneficial bacteria to your gut, promoting a healthy balance and can alleviate IBS-related discomfort.
6. Toilet Paper
Choose a toilet paper that's gentle on the environment & your bum.
We recommend who gives a crap toilet paper - it's got over 7,500 5-star reviews.
It's strong meaning you need less sheets, 100% renewable, great value and we love the brand name!
7. Relaxation Aids
Stress and anxiety are known to exacerbate IBS symptoms. Including relaxation aids in your kit can be beneficial during flare-ups. Items such as stress balls, essential oils, or calming music can help you unwind and manage stress levels, potentially reducing the severity of your symptoms. Experiment with different relaxation techniques to find what works best for you.
We also love the Nerva IBS app - it's designed to help you calm your mind and you digestion.
Creating an IBS Survival Kit tailored to your needs
When you feel rough during an IBS flare up, you need to have go-to items to help you relax and focus on feeling better.
Remember that IBS is a highly individualised disorder, so it's essential to find what works best for you.
By including items like the 'Just Can't Wait' key, hot water bottles, comfortable clothing, water, digestive aids, and relaxation tools, you'll be better equipped to handle IBS flare-ups with greater ease and comfort.
Stay resilient, explore various coping strategies, and don't hesitate to consult with healthcare professionals for personalised advice and support.
Sending you a big warm non-IBS day hug!