Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is health condition that is commonly characterized by a mix of symptoms which include discomfort or pain in the belly and abdomen, irregular bowel habits such as diarrhea and constipation, bloating and many others. Many people suffer from this condition both knowingly and unknowingly in many parts of the world. The condition mostly affects people from their late teens to early 40’s. IBS is not considered life threating, however, it can be a long lasting condition that affects your quality of life.
People with IBS may experience occasional difficulties going about their daily activities such as attending school or work. Severe cases of IBS can force a person to change their work setting, working hours or even fail to work at all.
People with IBS may experience a wide range of symptoms such as: diarrhea, constipation, discomfort or pain in the belly and lower abdomen, cramps, excess gas or bloating, irregular stool (stool that is thin, hard, soft or liquid) and pot belly or belly that sticks out. You do not have to experience all these symptoms at once to know that you are suffering from IBS. Most people with IBS experience their own unique combination of symptoms because of difference in digestive systems and metabolism.
Some people have also been observed to experience various urinary symptoms such as pain while peeing, peeing a lot or not peeing for long durations of time. Currently, there are four known types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome which are IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS mixed (IBS-M) and finally IBS un-subtyped (IBS-U). IBS-M is the category for people with an alternating pattern of diarrhea and constipation while IBS-U is for people who do not fit into any of the three primary types of IBS.
First and foremost, it is good to note that there is no single treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome that works for everyone. This is because IBS is not considered a disease but a condition that is characterized by various symptoms. Treatment is heavily dependent on the symptoms a patient experiences. However, there are adequate treatment plans for most people with IBS. A visit to the doctor’s should help you get the right treatment plan for your own unique IBS symptoms.
IBS symptoms are triggered by many things which can include foods, certain medications, and gas in food or drinks, presence of stool as well as emotional stress. A person dealing with IBS should strive to know exactly what triggers their symptoms in order to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Diet and lifestyle changes are considered the most effective and permanent treatment for IBS. A few basic changes to your daily diet and exercise routine can help to reduce IBS symptoms over time.
There are various recommendations for the reduction and eradication of IBS symptoms:
– People with IBS should avoid taking caffeine which is found in drinks such as tea, coffee, sodas and energy drinks.
– IBS patients are also recommended to add more fiber to their diet. This means including more vegetables, fruits and whole grains in their daily meals.
– Drink more glasses of water per day.
– Quit smoking.
– Avoid stress and stressful situations.
– Eat smaller meals more often as opposed to large meals.
There are certain foods that are known to trigger IBS symptoms in most people. Foods such as cow’s milk, wheat, red wine, green onions, red peppers and cheese can cause you to experience a wide range of IBS symptoms. People with IBS should keep track of the foods they eat. This helps them to easily figure out which foods trigger the IBS symptoms to occur. Also, as mentioned above, stress is also a well-known trigger of IBS symptoms so relaxing, doing more exercise and reducing stress in your life can also help alleviate symptoms of IBS.
The following drugs are commonly used to treat IBS symptoms:
– Antispasmodics: These drugs control colon muscle spasms. However, experts are uncertain about their effectiveness and they are also known to have a wide range of side effects such as drowsiness and constipation.
– Antidiarrheal: These drugs are meant to help with diarrhea. Drugs such as Imodium can come in handy.
– Laxatives: Laxatives offer short term relief from constipation.
-Bulking Agents: Agents such as corn fiber, wheat bran and psyllium can help slow down the movement of food through the digestive tract. This helps in relieving a wide range of IBS symptoms.
– Antidepressants: These drugs do not specifically target IBS but they have been observed to reduce symptoms caused by emotional stress and depression.
It is important to make sure that you get doctor’s advice before taking any IBS medication. Some medications such as laxatives can lead to unhealthy habit forming if not used properly.