Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a medical condition associated with the gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract). It may also be referred to as colitis, spastic bowel condition, mucous colitis etc. In this disorder, there is a change in the normal functioning of the GI tract. The diagnosis is based on symptoms like abdominal discomfort, cramps, pain, heartburn, bloating of the stomach and altered bowel routine or habit. Generally, either constipation, diarrhea or both are commonly observed in the patients of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
It should be understood that IBS essentially, is not a disease and there are no scientifically established causes for it. The condition is caused due to a collection of symptoms that occur at the same time. The causes of IBS can be both physical as well as mental, related to stress and depression. Certain bodily conditions and biological processes like small infections, parasite infections, fructose malabsorption, abnormal behaviour of flora present in the gut, sesitivity to certain food items, etc can also manifest as IBS. Thus, IBS mainly results from an interaction disorder between our brain and the GI tract.
Genetics may also have a role to play in causing IBS. If a similar condition has been faced by older members of the family, the younger ones may be prone to it.
Diagnosis: The likelihood of IBS being diagnosed increases when:
An individual has problems passing stool normally.
Suffers from abdominal cramps and pain about thrice a month from the past 3 months or so.
Experiences weight loss or rectal bleeding etc.
A series of blood and stool tests may be required to confirm the condition and begin treatment.
Medically speaking, IBS has no cure. However there are a number of ways to ‘manage’ the condition and improve the one’s quality of life. This can be achieved by minimizing the triggers that may aggravate and worsen the condition of IBS.
Dietary Changes And Cures
As mentioned earlier, some people suffering from IBS may have food sensitivity or food intolerances like the lactose intolerance. To get relief, a diet that restricts some types of carbohydrates, fats, fructose, lactose etc is a good diet. Since carbs and sugars have a poor rate of absorption in the GI tract, such a diet can help in curbing IBS symptoms. People who develop IBS symptoms due to lactose intolerance are sure to benefit from a diet that lacks milk and its products. It is however significant to seek professional advice and include calcium supplements in your diet.
Including large amounts of fiber foods in the diet like fruits with peels, vegetables, salads and greens etc. This dietary fiber or roughage works by altering the GI tract contents and thus facilitating bowel movement and combating constipation. The stool tends to become soft and can pass smoothly through the digestive tract. Remember to increase the fiber content in your diet gradually to avoid problems of flatulence and consequent bloating. Some foods like brocolli, cabbage and legumes like beans may also contribute towards IBS. Consuming them in limited amounts is suggested. Also, other things to avoid are artificial sweetners, soda, beverages like coffee as they contain caffeine, alcohol based drinks etc.
Sometimes, stuffing the stomach with large meals at a time can also cause IBS over a period of time. It is therefore best to take small meals at frequent time intervals. This will help solve many a cramping problems.
Water is a proven therapy to relieve IBS symptoms. The patient must make a conscientious effort to drink plentiful amounts of water daily.
The Supplement Cure For IBS
The modern medical world has a number of effective supplements to offer to IBS sufferers in order to manage the symptoms. These include prebiotic fiber supplements, peppermint oil capsules with enteric coating that ensures correct absorption, fennel and peppermint seed tea, probiotics, certain digestive enzymes and others. It is believed that the supplements bring quick relief and are quite safe with a minimum of side effects. However, it is always better to exercise caution and refer to medical practitioner or dietician before going for any such remedy.
Generally, to cure the symptoms of IBS, stool softeners and laxatives ( For Constipation) and antidiarrheals (For Diarrhea) are recommended. Anti spasmodic drugs like ‘Dicyclomine’ may benefit patients with cramps. Since the connection of IBS with the brain cannot be denied, some doctors can prescribe Tricyclic Anti-depressants for IBS patients.
Alternative Therapy Cures
Alternative therapies like hypnotherapy, directed to the gut, are clinically proven to benefit and bring considerable relief to IBS patients. Research is on to find out more about this as it may prove to be a dependable cure for IBS in future. Besides, stress-management and psychotherapy also help to treat the symptoms. Since stress can cause gut-irregularities, the mind needs to relax to be able to normalize the tract. For this, practicing yoga and learning to meditate may prove to be effective. Infact, yoga has been found by many to heal symptoms of nausea, constipation, bloated stomach etc.
Natural Homemade Cures For Irritable Bowel Syndrome
An increase in the intake of Vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits helps to boost the immune system and reduce constipation symptoms. For diarrhea, an amino acid called L-Glutamine can be taken mixed in cold water or at room-temperature.
The patients of IBS can learn to take ‘Colonic Massages’ either on the toilet seat or while lying down with knees bent. In this process, the right hand is closed to make a fist and the colon area of the body is massaged using a kneading, circular motion. The purpose is to lengthen the effected area and facilitate bowel movement. It is however, important to apply the technique rightly.
What’s more, trying hard to control stressful emotions like anger and attaining a balance of the mind and the body is the key to the cure of IBS.
IBS can be quite a challenging condition. By changing one’s diet patterns, exercising and avoiding stress, one can actually move towards a permanent cure. A dedicated approach to address the condition can go a long way in healing it.