Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Functional gastrointestinal disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be extremely uncomfortable because they are characterized by a range of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. Some people can experience multiple symptoms which can vary in frequency and severity. They can also severely impact your quality of life. “Functional” means the bowel looks normal (i.e. no inflammation or lesions can be seen that might explain the symptoms) but does not function properly.
If you think you might be suffering from a Functional Digestive Disorder, make sure you visit your doctor.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. Canada has one of the highest prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the world – estimated 18% vs. 11% globally. 5 95. (Lovell et al. 2012)) Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, stomach cramps and passing stools irregularly such as constipation and or diarrhea. IBS can be a major burden to sufferers, keeping them from enjoying their day to day routine. Even so, if you have medically diagnosed IBS, there is plenty you can do to keep the symptoms in check and live a life with fewer interruptions.
What is IBS and how is it diagnosed?
Patients with IBS often experience a range of symptoms. It’s usually based on ruling out other diseases. An irritable bowel is likely if indigestion issues are particularly present in the intestine, but aren’t triggered by inflammation, infection, intolerance to sugars, or any other causes. There’s a lot of overlap between IBS and Functional Dyspepsia (FD), so it can be difficult to clearly separate the two diseases when it comes to diagnosis.
To be diagnosed with IBS, you must have experienced abdominal pain or discomfort at least three days a month, for the last three months. You must also experience two or more of the following:
- Feeling better after passing a stool
- An onset of symptoms when the frequency with which you pass stools changes
- An onset of symptoms when the appearance of your stools changes
If you think you might be suffering from IBS, make sure you visit your doctor as soon as possible. While IBS can be painful, it does not damage the colon or other parts of the digestive system, and does not lead to other health problems. IBS can be quite different in different people. Some people will suffer different symptoms to others, and their symptoms may change over time. For those suffering multiple symptoms one solution for these multiple symptoms is handy to have.
What causes IBS?
The exact cause of IBS isn’t yet known. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome tend to have organs (e.g. the colon) that are more sensitive to pain.
Gender, age, genetics, hormonal changes, medications, gastrointestinal infections and certain foods have all been linked to the development of IBS. Doctors and researchers also believe that psychological reasons like stress play a large part.
If you have medically diagnosed IBS, certain factors can ‘trigger’ symptoms or ‘attacks’, including:
- Infection – an episode of inflammation of the gut may result in persistent bowel symptoms in people with IBS.
- Food intolerance – some people, including those with IBS may experience impaired absorption of lactose (a sugar found in dairy and many processed foods), fructose or sorbitol (an artificial sweetener).
- General diet – Low fibre diets can make constipation worse in some people with IBS.
- Stress – Strong emotions, such as anxiety or stress, can affect the nerves of the bowel in people with IBS, triggering symptoms.
- Medications – Certain medications (such as antibiotics, antacids and painkillers) can cause constipation or diarrhea.
Is there a cure?
While there are effective treatment options to relieve the symptoms of medically diagnosed IBS, like Iberogast, unfortunately there’s currently no cure for IBS. Treatments tend to focus on easing or relieving the digestive symptoms associated with the syndrome.
Changing your routine can make a difference too. You can begin to learn when symptoms tend to occur, such as when you eat certain foods like cabbages and onions, when you don’t do enough exercise, or when your under a lot of stress. You can then adapt your routine to help avoid triggering your IBS symptoms Working together with your healthcare professional can help decide the most appropriate treatment for your IBS symptoms.
IBS is a condition with multiple symptoms that can occur at the same time, and a treatment with a multi-targeted action, like Iberogast, can be effective at relieving the symptoms of IBS.
Tips for managing IBS:
- Eat slowly and ensure food is chewed thoroughly and swallow carefully
- Increase dietary fibre (soluble or insoluble depending on your symptoms)
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Avoid foods that are known to trigger your IBS symptoms
- Eat plenty of fruit, salad and vegetables
- Use relaxation techniques to minimize stress
- Exercise regularly
- Get lots of sleep
- Consider Iberogast