What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is a condition that is prevalent worldwide. It is also known as the spastic colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon or irritable colon disease as well. The disease is related to the digestive system, especially the intestines. It is a combination of pain felt in the abdominal area and discomfort with bowel habits. The disease causes bowel movements way too often resulting in diarrhoea, or it constricts bowel movements, causing constipation1. Sometimes it alternates between the two.
The condition itself is not life-threatening nor does it lead into other diseases like the Crohn’s disease or any other bowel-related conditions. However, this disease can still affect one’s life drastically. It causes great levels of discomfort and disrupts daily life. It makes going to places like school or your job difficult as you. It hurts most of the abdomen hence, makes it more difficult to focus.
IBS is usually found amongst young people more especially in ages 45 and below. It is more commonly experienced by women than it is by men.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Causes
There is still no definitive cause that has been discovered for this disease. However, there are some factors that have been identified to contribute to this condition.
- Inflammation of the intestine
One irritable bowel syndrome cause is inflammation of the intestine. This can be caused by an increased number of immune system cells in the intestine. Immune system cells have a natural fighting response that causes inflammation. Due to that the intestine starts to hurt and causes conditions like diarrhea.
- Nervous System
Miscommunicated signals from the brain to the intestine can cause changes that the body is not familiar with. This can cause the body to act out of order and result in pain, diarrhea or constipation.
IBS can be paired with excessive bacteria present in the intestine. This is also known as bacteria overgrowth. The unfavorable conditions all occur due to bacteria.
Apart from these factors, there are some triggers that aggravate the condition and make it worse.
Stress can also trigger IBS. The increased amount of pressure affects the digestive system even more. This stimulates the bowels and causes difficulty and discomfort in bowel movements.
The fact that women suffer from IBS more frequently than men do, signals that the disease has something to do with hormonal changes. It has been reported that the disease is more prevalent during the menstrual cycle each month.
The food we eat plays an integral part in our health. Therefore, we should always be wary of what we eat. Although the relationship between IBS and food allergies has not been certified, it has been noticed that many people start experiencing symptoms of IBS as soon as they eat or drink certain edibles. These edibles include milk, wheat, dairy products, selected fruits, and vegetables, etc.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms
- Abdominal Pain
The very first and most frequent symptom that may occur is abdominal pain. It may get worse after eating as the stomach begins to cramp. However, it usually subdues for a while after a bowel movement.
Another common symptom is bloating in the stomach area. Due to bloating your belly will feel tight and look visibly swollen. It may also cause you to feel full which will only add to the discomfort.
One of the more embarrassing symptoms of the condition is gas. Gas can add to the abdominal pain. There are some foods that you need to be cautious of as they can worsen this symptom. These include:
- Dairy products.
- Foods that have a high level of fat.
- Beverages that include alcohol, caffeine, or artificial flavorings.
Other causes of irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Mucus in stool2
There are no specific treatments for IBS. Most treatments are focused on relieving the symptoms which in turn brings relief to the patients. There are treatments you can try from the comfort of your home that may help you alleviate the symptoms that you are experiencing. Integrating some of these treatments into your daily routine will help you avoid the ailment altogether.
- Home remedies.
Adding Pre-Biotics and Probiotics to Your Diet:
Pre-biotics are the non-digestible parts of your food that travel through the small intestine and is fermented when it reaches the colon. This then feeds the good bacteria colonies and increases the level of good bacteria in our digestive system. Pre-biotics can be found in foods like banana, onions, garlic, apple peel, and others.
Probiotics are live bacteria found in fermented foods. You can easily add probiotics to your diet by eating foods like yogurt, pickles, traditional buttermilk and some types of cheeses like cottage cheese mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
Fiber can make a great contribution to easing your symptoms. It eases cramps and makes digestions much easier. Foods that have high fiber content include barley, whole grain, carrots, sweet corn, berries nuts, and seeds.
- Chamomile tea.
- Bay leaf tea.
- Stress management.
Stress can cause your symptoms to get worse. To avoid that you need to avoid stress, however, that is easier said than done. There are methods you can use to reduce stress like breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation.
Changes in lifestyle can help you reduce the risk of IBS. Avoiding foods that aggravate symptoms and an overall healthy routine can help you live your life more comfortably.
- Medical Treatment
Medicines commonly used to ease IBS symptoms are antidiarrheal agents, these help in relaxing the bouts of diarrhea. To help with pain doctors will prescribe antispasmodics. These can ease the pain felt in the abdominal area and symptoms that are experienced after eating. To help with constipation doctors prescribe Laxatives. To reduce the bad bacteria in the digestive system antibiotics may also be prescribed.
- WebMD - What Is Constipation?
- Mayo Clinic - Mucus in stool: A concern?