Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive disorder that affects the way the intestines process food. The condition causes a number of uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing symptoms including bloating, diarrhea, cramps, stomach pain, gas and constipation.
The symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person. They can also vary from day to day for the same person. One day the condition may border on being absolutely debilitating, while the next day it may be relatively mild.
No clear cause for IBS has been determined, although there are signs that it may be linked to chronic stress and anxiety. Other theories are that it is caused by malfunctioning signals between the brain and the gut, making it difficult for the intestines to properly digest food.
Other possible causes include improper movement of the intestinal muscles and food sensitivities.
It has been well-documented that some types of food, chronic stress, long-term use of antibiotics and changes in hormones can all play a role in causing or worsening irritable bowel symptoms. The key in managing this disorder lies in learning as much as possible about the disease, and then finding ways to make simple lifestyle changes to minimize its impact on your life.
The Internet has made it easier than ever to find reliable information about irritable bowel syndrome. The following list outlines some of the most reputable websites for learning more about how to manage this condition:
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) is a branch of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The NDDIC website provides accurate and up-to-date information on IBS including statistics, symptoms, current treatment options and ongoing research.
The Mayo Clinic is one of the best-known medical facilities in the world. It is a non-profit organization based in Rochester, Minnesota that focuses on cutting edge medical research and treatment options.
The Mayo Clinic website provides an in-depth look at irritable bowel syndrome, including information on the symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications and techniques for diagnosis.
It also provides a closer look at some of the numerous treatment options available including lifestyle changes, home remedies, alternative medicine and prevention. Along with medical information, there is also a section devoted to finding emotional support when dealing with a chronic condition like IBS.
The U.S. News and World Report rated the Cleveland Clinic as one of the top four hospitals in the United States. The clinic, which is located in Cleveland, Ohio, is an academic medical center that focuses on research.
Their website provides a comprehensive overview of irritable bowel syndrome including a list of common symptoms. They also have helpful information on how to choose the best doctor to help you manage your IBS, as well as common triggers and simple lifestyle changes you can make to help control the disorder.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
The U.S. National Library of Medicine is touted as the world’s largest medical library. The section of their website that deals with IBS covers topics such as causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
It is a good resource for getting a quick overview of the disorder without getting bogged down with too many details.
The Gut Foundation
Founded by the Gastroenterological Society of Australia in 1983, The Gut Foundation is Australia’s leading authority on gastrointestinal disease. Their primary objective is to find ways to treat and prevent digestive disorders through nutrition. The Gut Foundation website provides a downloadable guide to managing IBS that includes information on diet and nutrition.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, it is important to learn as much as possible about the condition. Being well-informed will help you make healthy lifestyle choices that ease the symptoms of IBS and allow you to lead an active, normal life.
Taking advantage of the many online resources available for IBS sufferers is a great way to take control of your health and become an active participant in the management of the disorder.
Unlike many diseases and disorders, IBS can’t be cured with a simple pill. Instead it requires that you make changes to the way you live your life. By educating yourself about the condition, you can play an active role in reducing or eliminating the symptoms.