Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is characterized by a common gastrointestinal disorder where a combination of symptoms affect the large intestine in both adults and children. The combination of symptoms include abdominal pain, stomach cramps, feelings of gas, changed bowel habits, bloating and intolerance for certain foods. Irritable bowel syndrome was used to be called spastic colon or bowel, nervous colon, functional bowel disease, or mucous colitis.
It is essential to take note that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is entirely different from inflammatory bowel disease even though they have similar symptoms. While Inflammatory Bowel Disease is life-threatening, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not. In most cases, symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome would usually improve or completely disappear when treated.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is often termed as ‘functional disorder.’ This is because of the changes that happen to the normal functioning of our digestive system. When these changes occur, it means that there is a problem with the motility or movement in the digestive system resulting to the cluster of IBS symptoms.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome may vary depending on the cause. The two most common types of IBS is IBS-D (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea) and IBS-C (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation).
The symptoms that are associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea are:
– Stools at frequent intervals
– Feelings of being unable to complete discharging
– Discomfort around the abdomen
– Stools that are loose in form
For Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation, the common symptoms experienced are:
– Feelings of being unable to complete discharging
– Pains and discomfort around the abdominal region
– Stools that are inconsistent
– Frequent feelings of bloating
The main cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome has not been identified yet. However, there are factors that contribute to the symptoms that causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome. These factors include:
- Problems with the nervous system – When there are problems with your nervous system, they would most likely let you experience pains and discomfort when your abdomen extends during bowel movement or letting out gas. This is because of the poor communication between your intestines and the brain which can cause a bad reaction from changes in the digestive system.
- Ulcers and inflammation within the intestine walls – When there are plenty of bacteria growth along the lining of the intestine walls, it can develop IBS with serious bouts of diarrhea.
- Low levels of microflora (good bacteria) – These good bacteria help keep our digestive system healthy. When there is low levels or loss of microflora, IBS is usually likely to develop.
Triggers and risk factors causing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are generally triggered by the following:
– Stress: People who experience frequent and increased levels of stress are more likely to get Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Stress will not directly cause the condition but would provoke it.
– Types of food: Often food can trigger the symptoms of IBS especially certain types like wheat, dairy, beans, and even certain seafood.
– Hormonal activity: It is reported that women suffer from IBS more than men. This may indicate that hormones also play a role in triggering IBS.
People who are more likely to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome include women, young adults below the age of 50, have an IBS family history and experiencing mental health issues.
Home remedies that may help manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Whenever we experience the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is mostly uncomfortable, if not, embarrassing. Feeling constantly cramped, bloated, and gassy and having to use the bathroom so often is not fun at all. There is no official cure to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, there are natural options for treatment to reduce the symptoms.
- Have more fiber in your diet – eating more fiber can help reduce symptoms of IBS. This is especially useful for people who are suffering from IBS with constipation. Fiber can help smoothing out the intestinal walls making it an easy passage for the food we eat.
2. Avoid situations that increases stress levels – stress is notoriously known to cause a lot of health issues both physically and mentally. It’s no different for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Stress, in fact, worsens the symptoms so it is best to keep away from situations that significantly increase stress. There are stress-management strategies that you can practice like meditation, breathing exercises or even moderate exercise. It is best if you incorporate balance in your lifestyle as well.
3. Lower consumption of foods with dairy content – often, we may not realize that we have low tolerance for dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter. However, dairy is also known to trigger IBS symptoms easily. If you insist on consuming dairy, try taking alternatives instead. For example, instead of milk, try eating yogurt as a substitute for your daily dairy requirements. Yogurt is also a good solution for IBS because of the high content of probiotics in them.
4. Give digestive enzymes a try – For you to easily break down your food, you can try taking digestive enzymes with your food. Digestive enzymes can help with the proper flow of the food we eat and smoothly makes its way to our intestines to be broken down.
5. Drinking plenty of water – water also helps to flush out bacteria and lessen its growth along our intestinal walls. In the same way, drinking water helps soften our food making it easier to pass through our intestines to be broken down.
6. Keep fit and exercise regularly – even moderate exercise can help relieve the symptoms of IBS. Exercise has always been a tried and tested method of reducing health problems. Regular exercise can help stimulate the intestinal contractions in our digestive system.
7. Monitor the food that you eat – we often don’t realize what kind of food triggers our IBS symptoms. Always keep a record of what you eat and take note of the times on which food that would cause bouts of IBS. That way, you will know what foods to eat and not to eat next time around.
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