Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, though some may consider it a taboo subject to discuss, it is a real health issue that affects almost 25 to 45 million Americans.
Essentially, it’s something that’s uncommon to discuss with, however medically, it raises conversation and awareness among people who are mostly suffering from it.
But what do you need to know about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, its types, and the causes? In today’s blog, let’s talk about everything you need to know about it, especially this April.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
There are days when we feel abdominal discomfort that just goes away overnight. It could be because of various factors such as too much gas, indigestion, constipation, or a menstrual cramp for women.
This is not very alarming. However, if it persists and is associated with pain, it could mean you have a condition called- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent condition that affects the large intestine or your digestive system. People who have IBS often get excessive gas, abdominal pain, and cramps. Because it is chronic in nature, those who have this condition will have to manage it long term.
To control the condition, an individual has to be diagnosed as to what type of IBS they have. Given that there are medications that only work for certain types of IBS.
What are the different types of IBS?
To be effective, treatments must address the type of ailment an individual has for the symptoms to be manageable. For IBS, medical professionals use medicines, therapies and other treatments to help alleviate the manifestations of the disorder. IBS comes in different forms and patterns, thus it is vital for people to assess themselves during the onset of the condition.
The type of Irritable Bowel Syndrome depends on the abnormal activity of your bowel movement such as:
IBS with Constipation (IBS-C)
Constipation is when you don’t pass stools often enough in a week and when you finally do, the stools are lumpy and hard leaving you the feeling of an
incomplete bowel movement.
IBS-C can also cause abdominal pain accompanied by gas and bloating.
IBS with Diarrhea (IBS-D)
This is quite the opposite of IBS-C which makes your stools loose and watery. You may also experience abdominal pain and excessive gas, along with the frequent urge to go.
IBS with Mixed Bowel Habits (IBS-M)
This is kind of a mixture of the two types. You will have both hard/lumpy and loose/watery stools. It is also classified as IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea.
For every sickness, there are underlying factors involved. To determine whether or not you have IBS. Let us go through the factors that contribute to this condition.
What are the causes of IBS?
According to medical experts, IBS is thought to be caused by a combination of problems. Different factors may cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome in different people.
IBS and other functional gastrointestinal (GI) diseases are issues with brain-gut interaction, or how your brain and gut interact. Experts believe that issues with brain-gut interaction may have an impact on how your body functions and contribute to IBS symptoms. Food may pass too slowly or too quickly through the digestive tract in some people with IBS, causing bowel movements to alter. When a normal quantity of gas or stool is present in the gut, some people with IBS may experience pain.
Certain problems are also common in IBS. Experts say that the following may play as contributing factors such as:
- Early childhood events that are unpleasant or traumatic, such as physical or sexual abuse
- Depression and mental disorders
- Bacterial infections in the intestines
- Food intolerance or sensitivities, which cause stomach discomfort when specific meals are consumed
IBS may sound scary for some people who have heard it the first time, yet it is not life-threatening. It does not increase your chances either to get other colon conditions.
However, this can significantly disrupt your daily life given that this is a long-lasting condition that needs to be managed. More often, people with IBS have the tendency to skip school, miss work or participate less in any activities. From the word irritable per se, it really is bothersome.
What are the common signs and symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
People with IBS have symptoms that include:
- Mixed diarrhea and constipation
- Too much gas
- Bloating or protruding belly
- Feeling of incomplete bowel movement
- Stomach pain or belly cramps
Other symptoms may include:
- Lethargy (or tiredness)
- Frequent urge to pee
- Feeling nauseated
What are the treatment options for IBS?
As mentioned earlier, it is necessary for a medical expert to determine what type of IBS you have. From there, you can work on what type of medical treatment you will get alongside other interventions.
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
No matter how tempting coffee is, you might want to avoid that, along with other fatty and rich in carbohydrates food that may not be digested well in your intestines. This may cause excessive gas that will result to bloating and abdominal cramps. You may want to consult a nutritionist or dietician to find out what your trigger food are.
Move that body and get in shape- yes, oftentimes we underestimate the power of an active body. By exercising, you will free your mind from all the stress around you. This will certainly make a great difference especially when you are experiencing IBS.
We have discussed the non-medical interventions to alleviate the symptoms of IBS, now let us talk about the medical side of it.
Health care professionals use medication (prescription or over the counter) to manage the symptoms. Here are few of the medicines that actually work:
For people who are having a hard time passing stools or experiencing constipation. There is one particular medicine, linaclotide, which people use for constipation due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This medicine works by increasing the secretion of water in the intestines, making it easier to pass through stools and relieving the symptoms of constipation.
Antidiarrheal medicines help slow down the digestive process in your bowels. It reduces the frequency and urgency of defecation. However, the cause of diarrhea cannot be eliminated, and as soon as you stop taking the medicine, the diarrhea comes back until the underlying cause (such as an infection or inflammation) is determined and properly treated.
Smooth muscle relaxants
Smooth muscle relaxants are good for relieving abdominal pain or cramps. It also acts directly on the smooth muscles of the intestinal wall. Here they help relax the muscles and relieve pain.
Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria that may contribute to the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates in the stomach.
Mental well-being and IBS are surprisingly connected. People who have such conditions reported having a sudden shift of mood, depression, or anxiety.
“IBS is a chronic medical condition, but like many other conditions it is susceptible to the effects of stress, diet, sleep, and other factors that are manageable,”According to Andrea Bradford, Ph.D., a Psychologist at Baylor College of Medicine,
There are several psychological interventions available. The most known and well-studied is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which has been proven effective for IBS. The treatment is administered by a trained psychologist.
Hypnotherapy has also been proven effective in managing IBS.
Have Yourself Checked
If you have reached the end of this article and feel like you have ticked all the symptoms on the list, you may want to have yourself checked.
Early diagnosis is a crucial step in receiving the proper treatment.
If you need online and virtual consultations regarding your gut health today, you can reach out to me for a telehealth consultation regarding your health if you have more questions.