Have you ever heard of a condition called irritable bowel syndrome? It is quite common, afflicting millions in the world today. There is actually no known cause for this condition, just symptoms that will manifest as a result of multiple reasons.
You will know that you have this condition if you start to experience bloating in your abdomen, excessive amounts of gas, and either diarrhea, constipation or a combination of the two.
Cramping is also very prominent with this condition which is actually not a disease, but there are many treatment options. Here is a brief overview of what IBS actually is, what causes it, and some treatments that you might want to try.
What Exactly Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
This condition was once called spastic colon, or colitis, but the name has gradually changed. As doctors began to realize he was not actually a disease but a conglomeration of multiple conditions affecting people for different reasons. As mentioned above, abdominal pain is one of the first symptoms of IBS.
They subsequently categorized it into four separate types including IBS with constipation, diarrhea, the combination of the two, and also one that is called un-subtyped. All of this occurs in your GI tract which is essentially the pathway that the food and beverages that you consume follow from your mouth, ending at your rectum. IBS typically occurs in the large intestines which is where salt, water and the remaining nutrients that the small intestines did not absorb.
Common Symptoms Of IBS
There are many more specific symptoms that can occur with IBS. This has to do with the timing of your bowel movements, and the type of bowel movements that you have. For instance, if you typically had bowel movements every day, you could suddenly find yourself being constipated, not having them but once or twice a week.
You may also have the opposite effect which would be diarrhea, and a constant feeling as if you have to have a bowel movement, but you really don’t. This confusion with bowel movements can be caused for many reasons, a few of which are now presented.
Typical Causes Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Most of the time, IBS is caused either by the food and drinks that you consume, a confusion between electrical signals from your intestines to your brain, or an overabundance of bacteria in the large intestine. The first one is the easiest to fix. You simply change your diet. This means you will have to stop consuming dairy products, eliminate soda and coffee, and consider a high fiber no sugar diet.
If it is electrical signals, this is typically a mental health problem which means you could be experiencing anxiety, depression, or some type of panic disorder which is causing the signals to get crossed. It may also be caused by the SSRIs that you are taking to control these conditions, making it difficult for the brain to connect with the large intestines. Finally, it could simply be GI motor problems that would be a purely physical condition.
Best Treatments For Irritable Bowel Syndrome
As mentioned before, what you consume could be causing the problem. Your doctor will definitely ask you to change your diet and then monitor the results. In order to remedy the constipation or diarrhea, they will prescribe laxatives or an antidiarrheal such as loperamide that can clear up each problem.
If your physician determines that it is a mental condition, they may prescribe antidepressants, or change the ones that you are on if the medications are actually what’s causing the problem.
At the very least, your doctor will recommend probiotics which are living microorganisms or bacteria which may be deficient in the large intestine, and once replenished, the problem will go away. One last thing your doctor may recommend is speaking to a psychologist. They will recommend talk therapy which will allow you to express in words the problems that you were having to a trained psychologist that will be able to listen to what you have to say, and recommend certain courses of action.
This could actually be much more beneficial than antidepressants because you will be removing pharmaceuticals from the equation. Your psychologist may recommend hypnotherapy which has been shown to help people relax the colon so that IBS has a higher probability of stopping.
Finally, mindfulness training is the measure of last resort of any psychologist as they will try to get you to focus on what is occurring right before your IBS begins. By recognizing the pattern, and then interrupting the pattern, it can stop irritable bowel syndrome from happening.
Now that you have a general idea of what IBS is, what causes it, and the treatment options that are available, if you currently have this condition, you will now know what to expect from your doctor, and which treatment options might seem best suited for you.
Remember, irritable bowel syndrome is not a disease. By using the treatment options that have been presented, you can treat all of the symptoms that arise and, hopefully, stop IBS from occurring in your life.