Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in the Field

Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in the Field

Watch this video and learn what you can do before and during deployment to help your IBS symptoms

Medically reviewed by Jeffrey D. Quinlan, M.D., FAAFP

If you have IBS, good preparation is key. Before a mission or deployment, you need to plan well. 

Develop strategies with your medical provider for handling flare-ups, including treatment or medications for symptoms if necessary. 

If medications are needed, make sure you have enough to last the whole time you’re gone. Stock up on essentials like fiber supplements, nutrient-dense snacks and powdered greens. They help keep your body fueled and your symptoms managed even when your food options aren’t ideal.

When it comes to food, work with what’s available: swap out entrées, sides and MREs to create high-protein, high-fiber combos and avoid trigger foods. 

Fill in food gaps with your supplements and nutrient-dense snacks. Get lots of fluids, but skip the soda: carbonation can make symptoms worse. Focus on fueling your body for performance. 

Sleep can be challenging when you’re away from home. 

If you’re recovering from 24-hour duty, an exhausting mission or just a really bad night, try tactical naps. Aim for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Strategies for managing stress will help you manage your condition. Work with your mental health professional to add tools to your mental health kit. Don’t wait till the last minute: practice early and often, so using your tools becomes second nature.

You don’t go on a mission without the right equipment. When it comes to IBS, your equipment includes medications, supplements, strategies and tools. Make a commitment to take good care of yourself — and you’re ready to go.


This resource was created with support from the Ready, Healthy & Able program funders.

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Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in the Field

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