IBS is a severe functional gastrointestinal disorder. Its causes are not known but there are risk factors that trigger this condition. The symptoms can be mild or severe, but with good treatment and diet, they can go into remission.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is often a long term occurring disease which can not be cured by can be managed. Its symptoms can be mild or severe. But even if chronic, it rarely leads to complications or life-threatening situations. The group of symptoms mostly point towards the problems of movement in the bowels, rather than the damage to the tissues of the bowels.
There is no known cause of IBS. However, some factors could lead to the irritation of the bowel. Other names of the syndrome as referred by doctors can be; Mucous colitis, Spastic colon, Nervous colon, Irritable colon, Spastic bowel.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a severe functional gastrointestinal–that is changes in the functioning of the digestive system–disorder. It consists of collective intestinal symptoms occurring together and creating discomfort to the victim.
Types of IBS
IBS comes in different ways depending on the leading symptom or major cause of discomfort. There are 4 types but 3 are more common. They include:
This is irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea as the leading case.
Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome with a mixed pattern of diarrhoea and constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome subtyped because the victim has no concerns that fit into the above-mentioned types. This is extremely rare.
Although IBS does not lead to fatal cases, diarrhoea and constipation can lead to haemorrhoids. It can disrupt your activities and with time cumulate to poor quality of life because it is hard to meet up with all your everyday demands with your symptoms. Also, it can affect you psychologically and emotionally, giving you mood disorders.
It is advisable to see your doctor when you have started noticing symptoms. Your doctor will go through your medical records to see possible factors that are likely to cause IBS.
Certain tests can be carried out but they do not diagnose IBS directly, rather they seek out signs that can be related to IBS. These tests include:
- Stool tests for microbes infections
- Blood tests for signs of infection, anaemia.
- Tests for food allergies and diseases
- Tests for bowel muscular contractions.
- Colonoscopy for signs of inflammation in the bowels.
- Upper endoscopy for indigestion and heartburn.
There is no one-off cure for IBS. However, there are ways to stop the symptoms and put them into remission. There are a lot of remedies and you need to work with your doctor to discover which one would work best for you.
Bulking agents that slow the food movement in the bowels and reduce the symptoms. They include wheat bran, corn fiber, psyllium, etc.
Drugs for Abdominal Pains, Cramps & Bloating
- Tricyclic antidepressants for muscular cramps.
- Antispasmodics for muscular spasms
- Probiotics for digestive problems
- Tenapanor for a bowel movement.
Drugs for Constipation
- Polyethene glycol (PEG)
- Bulk-forming laxatives
- Lubiprostone for women
- Tegaserod for women
Drugs for Diarrhea
- Antimotility medications
- Bile acid sequestrants
- Alosetron for women
To take these drugs, you are expected to consult with your doctor for a prescription.
To overcome IBS and put it in remission and also avoid the risk of developing IBS, there are dietary lifestyles you have to adapt to and foods you have to reduce their intake. Follow these guidelines:
- Reduce your intake of dairy products like milk and cheese
- Manage fibre intake. Take them as instructed by your doctor. Depending on your condition, you may need to reduce the intake or increase the intake.
- Eat-in small bits and avoid large chunks.
- Reduce your sugar intake and avoid sugar alternatives.
- Avoid gluten
- Cut down on caffeinated and carbonated products.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit your intake of alcohol.
- Drink a lot of water, at least 3 to 5 glasses a day.
- Do not miss a meal and keep a record of your eating habit.
Stress & Anxiety
To overcome stress and be calm enough to reduce the effects of IBS, engage in exercises that relax you. Techniques like stress counseling, meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi, etc can help you with relieving stress and anxiety.
Psychological conditions can contribute to IBS, therefore, treating these conditions can lead to the reduction of symptoms. Techniques like hypnotherapy, to alter the way the subconscious mind reacts to physical symptoms, and the Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to develop a positive mindset and relaxing attitude towards the condition. With these techniques, you can reduce the symptoms of IBS.
To prevent IBS from surfacing, you have to maintain a healthy eating habit and dietary plan. Avoid every strenuous activity that can cause stress and exercise regularly to ease out and relax. Once the risk factors are put off through these steps, IBS can be controlled.
IBS is a long-term disorder that can only be put into remission but cannot be completely cured. However, if it occurs and it is taken care of well, IBS takes 3 to 6 months to go into remission and for you to be back to your feet without the symptoms.
The symptoms of IBS include the following:
- Severe abdominal pains and cramps.
- Diarrhoea; with violent bowel movements, sudden urgent need to defecate, accompanied by loose watery stools, and a feeling that your bowels are still not empty after stopping.
- Alternating periods of diarrhoea and constipation due to changes in bowel habits.
- Swollen/bloated abdomen
- Passing out fart due to the accumulation of excess gas.
- Foamy stools or mucous accompanying stools from the rectum.
- Need to urinate often
- Food intolerance
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Muscular and joint pains
- In women, irregular menstrual cycles and pains during sex.
- On rare occasions, bad breath.
- Anxiety and depression
Symptoms often worsen when you eat, get stressed, and in women, during your menstrual periods.
After a whole amount of studies and suggestive reasons by researchers on why the bowels could become irritated bringing disturbing symptoms, specific causes haven't still been arrived at. However, certain trigger factors have been identified that lead to this condition. They include:
- Abnormal motility or movement of the intestines.
- Chronic pains in the digestive organs and bowels due to excess gas.
- Weak intestinal muscle contractions
- Abnormalities in the nervous system; poor coordination of signals from the brain to intestines can cause overreactive changes in the digestive process.
- Intestinal infections are caused by changes in gut microbes, which could be fungi, viruses, or bacteria, or after a severe case of gastroenteritis (stomach flu). Also, a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth can lead to IBS.
- Hormonal changes like reproductive hormones can kick off IBS or make it worse.
- Stress; exposure to events that increase stress level can aggravate cases of IBS.
- Psychological problems like depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can trigger IBS.
- Food poisoning can lead to gastroenteritis.
- The choice of food and diet can contribute to the trigger of IBS. Consumption of foods that can cause flatulence and flares. Such foods include; high-fiber products, dairy products, carbonated and caffeinated products, etc.
- How common is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the most common functional digestive tract disorder in humans. Studies have stated that it affects 2 out of every 20 people and affects everyone, both young and old, females and males.
- What is a “functional” bowel disorder?
The word 'functional' means that the condition occurs when the system or organs change the way they function or work, rather than changing their form or structure.
- Can bacteria affect IBS symptoms?
The number of bacteria in the tract is a lot. While they are there to help in the functioning of the bowels, some cause inflammation or infections. Also, a change in the function of bacteria can lead to severe gastrointestinal irritation symptoms.
- Do certain foods affect IBS symptoms?
Foods and dietary plans can contribute to increased symptoms. For instance, dairy products can lead to diarrhoea, carbonated products to the gaseous and bloated abdomen, smoking to inflammation, etc. To avoid this, consult with your doctor and/or dietician to sort this out for you.
- What causes bloating and gas?
This can be dietary concerns like carbonated foods, high-fibre foods can cause it.