Summer can make IBS symptoms and flare ups worse, by putting the body under physical stress and also from altered routines throughout the summer period.
The heat that the summer months bring can lead to dehydration, a lack of electrolytes and changes to gut bacterial levels. The humidity of summer can also be an issue as it can affect serotonin levels and can lower the pain threshold of your digestive system. Changes such as these can inflict physiological stress upon you, which can trigger IBS symptoms to worsen.
Another issue IBS sufferers may have in the summer is a change to their routine. Typically, in this season we tend to relax our routines, may indulge in a less strict diet and we tend to travel more, which can also upset our digestive health.
Luckily, there are many things IBS sufferers can do to ensure any negative effects of summer are reduced or eliminated.
We have put together some helpful tips for coping with IBS in the summer.
- The heat and humidity of summer can stress our bodies so to alleviate this issue, try to stay cool wherever possible.
- Open windows at night to make your bedroom as cool as possible so that your sleep is not disturbed and you maintain a lower body temperature throughout the night.
- Take colder showers to cool yourself down.
- Stick to places with air conditioning at the hottest times of the day if you are out and about, on holiday for example.
- Consider a water mist bottle to spray yourself with if you are outside in the heat for extended periods.
- Drink cool drinks.
- Try to stick to your exercise routines. Exercise does wonders for the body, especially for the digestive system, as it promotes bowel movement and prevents constipation
- If it is too hot to do your normal exercise routine, try a lighter exercise or do it earlier in the day or in the evening, when it should be cooler
- Keeping organised and not deviating from your good habits and routines is good for your mental wellbeing and as stress, serotonin levels and IBS are all interlinked, it is wise to try to stick to these as much as possible.
- If you take any medications or treatments for your IBS ensure you have them handy on days out, when you’re travelling or if you are prone to flare ups more in the summer months, take some with you just in case.
Maintain a Good Diet
- Many IBS sufferers avoid certain foods as they can trigger unpleasant symptoms. Summer can lead to indulgence, especially on holidays, at events and such like. Wherever possible, try to stick to healthy eating habits.
- Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system and so eating foods high in fibre will help ease symptoms. Fresh fruit is a great source of fibre and lighter meals such as salads are more welcome on a hot day, so try to pick the healthy option.
- Alcohol can cause dehydration, which will worsen IBS symptoms. In the summer, many of us consume more alcohol than usual so it is important to limit yourself if it is affecting your IBS.
- Avoid drinking too much caffeine as it can lead to IBS problems. In summer days are longer, we may be sleeping less and consuming more caffeine to compensate so keep an eye on your intake.
- If your IBS is worsened by the summer, you can try some herbal teas such as peppermint which can help with symptoms.
- Keeping a high water intake is so important in summer to avoid dehydration in the heat. Hydration is a key component of digestive health, and dehydration will lead to problems and an amplification of symptoms.
- Drink plenty of cold water, to avoid dehydration. Keep a bottle of water to hand on any long trips, during exercise or any physical exertion. It may be a slight inconvenience to carry water but an embarrassing flare up could be a much bigger inconvenience, and easily avoided.
- Many of us increase our alcohol intake during summer, so we should ensure we are also drinking water alongside any alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration.
- if you struggle to drink enough water, make a conscious effort to drink a little more often.
- As serotonin levels are reduced by the changes in air pressure caused by the humidity, try to compensate for this drop by encouraging serotonin production and reducing stress.
- Some foods encourage serotonin production such as dairy products like milk and cheese, seeds and nuts and spinach, amongst others. Be cautious here though, as these same foods may trigger your symptoms.
Enjoy your summer to the fullest by managing triggers of IBS flare ups and being aware of potential causes.