Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach, wind, diarrhoea and constipation. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. The cause of irritable bowel syndrome isn’t well understood. A diagnosis is often made based on symptoms. IBS doesn’t damage your digestive tract or raise your risk for colon cancer. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Others will need medication and counselling.
More than 1 million cases per year (India). The condition affects more women than men.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is a group of intestinal symptoms that typically occur together. The symptoms vary in severity and duration from person to person. However, they last at least three months for at least three days per month. It is a separate condition from inflammatory bowel disease and isn’t related to other bowel conditions
IBS is also known as spastic colon, irritable colon, mucous colitis, and spastic colitis.
What are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms?
Symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal pain or cramps– usually in the lower half of the abdomen.
- Bloating/ Excess gas– typically go away after you have a bowel movement.
- Bowel movements that are harder or looser than usual.
- Diarrhea, constipation or alternating between the two.
- Mucus with stool (may look whitish).
Women with IBS may find that symptoms flare up during their periods.
These symptoms often happen again and again, which can make feel stressed or upset.
What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Exact cause of IBS is unknown. Possible causes include an overly sensitive colon or immune system. Postinfectious IBS is caused by a previous bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract. The varied possible causes make IBS difficult to prevent.
A combination of factors can lead to IBS, including:
- Dysmotility: Problems with how GI muscles contract and move food through the GI tract. Slowed or spastic movements of the colon, causing painful cramping.
- Visceral hypersensitivity: Extra-sensitive nerves in the GI tract. Abnormal serotonin levels in the colon, affecting motility and bowel movements
- Brain-gut dysfunction: Miscommunication between nerves in the brain and gut
- Mild celiac disease that damages the intestines, causing IBS symptoms.
What triggers Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
If one have IBS, s/he may have noticed that certain things trigger symptoms. Common triggers include some foods and medication. Emotional stress can also be a trigger.
Some researchers suggest that IBS is the gut’s response to life’s stressors.
What are different types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
The type of IBS depends on the abnormal bowel movements one have
- IBS with constipation (IBS-C): stool is hard and lumpy. typically affects adolescents and young adults. constipation are the most common symptoms of this type of IBS.
- IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D): Mostly stool is loose and watery. It primarily affects large intestine. Common symptoms of IBS with diarrhea include frequent stools and nausea.
- IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M): Both hard and lumpy bowel movements and loose and watery movements on the same day. or may be on alternate day.
Who is at risk for developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
The condition most often occurs in people in their late teens to early 40s.
Women can be twice as likely than men to get IBS.
You may be at higher risk if you have:
- Family history of IBS.
- Emotional stress, tension or anxiety.
- Food intolerance.
- History of physical or sexual abuse.
- Severe digestive tract infection.
How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) diagnosed?
The first step in diagnosing IBS is a medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms:
- When did your symptoms start?
- How often do you have symptoms?
- Do you have pain related to bowel movements?
- Do you notice a change in how often you have a bowel movement?
- Has there been a change in your stool?
- Have you been sick or had a stressful event in your life recently?
- What medicines do you take?
- have you adopt a certain diet or cut out specific food groups for a period to rule out any food allergies
Depending on your symptoms, to confirm a diagnosis ,you may be asked for
- to have a stool sample examination to rule out infection
- to have blood tests to check for anemia and rule out celiac disease
- in some cases to perform a colonoscopy.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) treatment?
No specific therapy works for everyone, but most people with IBS can find a treatment that works for them. Typical treatment options include dietary and lifestyle changes.
Many people find that with these changes, symptoms improve:
- Lactose intolerance is more common in people with IBS. Limit cheese and milk. Make sure to get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli, spinach, salmon or supplements.
- Increase fiber in your diet — eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Add supplemental fiber to your diet.
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid caffeine (from coffee, chocolate, teas and sodas).
- Try the low FODMAP( fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols)diet, an eating plan that can help improve symptoms.
Low FODMAP Diet usually includes:
- lactose-free milk or other alternatives, like rice or almond milk
- fruits like oranges, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes
- rice or quinoa
- vegetables like carrots, eggplant, green beans, pumpkin, and zucchini
- Eat smaller meals more often.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t smoke.
- Try relaxation techniques.
- Record the foods you eat so you can figure out which foods trigger IBS flare-ups. Common triggers are red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat and cow’s milk.
As there is no specific treatment of IBS for everyone, one may be prescribed for antidepressant medications if there is depression and anxiety along with significant abdominal pain. Other medicines may be for diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain.
Probiotics are also prescribed. It may be an option for you. These “good bacteria” can help improve symptoms.
In Homoeopathy Medicine , there is also nothing specific for IBS. As it’s principle, treatment is completely based on symptoms totality which varies person to person.
Although following medicines are frequently indicated –
- Nux vomica
- Argentum nitricum
- Lilium tigrinum
- Natrum carb
- Arsenicum album
- Bryonia alba
- Carbo veg
- China officinalis
- Natrum mur
What is the Outlook / Prognosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is not life-threatening.
IBS doesn’t put you at higher risk of developing serious gastrointestinal conditions such as colitis, Crohn’s disease or colon cancer.
Living with this condition can be challenging because it can come and go throughout your life. But there are many ways to manage and live with IBS.
To feel your best, try to identify and avoid your triggers, including certain foods, medications and stressful situations.
There’s no cure for IBS. The goal of treatment is to control and manage symptoms.
READ ALSO: Knee Pain and Exercises
N.B-The information presented here is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications.