Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a persistent gastrointestinal disorder. The causes are not known. The common symptoms of IBS include gassiness, altered bowel movements, and abdominal pains. This medical condition is not cancerous, inherited or contagious. Medical studies indicate that almost 20 percent of adults have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It commonly affects women than men. Fortunately, treatment for IBS can be used to relieve these pains.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The primary function of the gastrointestinal tract is to break down (digest) and absorb food into the blood stream. In order to achieve this function, food has to be ground, mixed and then carried through the intestines, where it’s digested and absorbed. Moreover, undigested and unabsorbed food should be removed from the body.
Diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract, often disturb major functions, such as grinding, digestion and absorption, but to a small degree. These roles are essentially maintained, perhaps due to the typical stable capability of the gastrointestinal tract to carry out these functions. These diseases commonly affect transportation function. In the small intestine and stomach, the symptoms of reduced transportation pace are abdominal distention (enlargement), vomiting, nausea and abdominal bloating (the feelings of abdominal fullness). On the other hand, the symptom of faster transportation often is diarrhea.
In the colon, abnormally rapid or slow transportation leads to diarrhea or constipation, respectively. Moreover, there can be increased levels of mucus that coat the stool or a feeling of incomplete removal after bowel movements.
Slowed food transportation through the small intestines might be complicated by bacterial overgrowth. In the bacterial overgrowth, gas-generating bacteria that are often restricted within the colon move into the intestines. In the small intestines, they get exposed to excess amounts of undigested foods than in the colon, thereby turning the foods into gas. This gas formation can aggravate abdominal distention and bloating and result in increased diarrhea and flatulence or passing gas.
The gastrointestinal tract typically has a few ways of reacting to disease. Consequently, the symptoms are usually similar irrespective of whether the disease is functional or nonfunctional. Therefore, the symptoms of functional and nonfunctional gastrointestinal diseases are pain, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal distention, bloating, vomiting and nausea.
Treatment for IBS
The use of fiber in treating irritable bowel syndrome has changed over the years. Fiber is one of the foods that are not absorbed into one’s body. It remains in the gut and forms part of the stool. There is high fiber content in whole bread, cereals, vegetables among others. There are two kinds of fiber; soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps reduce IBS symptoms than the insoluble ones. Sources of soluble fiber include seeds, nuts, ispaghula (Psyllium), oats, pectin, fruits and vegetables. You can also take a fiber supplement known as ispaghula powder available in pharmacies and drug stores.
These medicines relax the muscles founds in the gut walls. Your doctor may prescribe one if you feel spasm pains. There are many varieties of antispasmodics such as peppermint oil, hyoscine and Mebeverine. They often work in different ways. Therefore, if one medicine doesn’t work, it’s worth trying another one. Most people take antispasmodic medicines for a week to control pains. Other people take some of these medicines before meals, in case the pains develop after eating.
Constipation is one of the major symptoms of IBS. You can consume soluble fiber such as ispaghula. In some cases, laxatives are recommended for short periods of time, if increasing the fiber intake is not enough in relieving constipation.
Antidiarrheal products can be used if diarrhea is the main symptom. The most commonly used antidiarrheal products for IBS is Loperamide. The dose of loperamide required to control diarrhea differs considerably. Most people use loperamide medicine as required but others take it regularly. Other individuals take a dose of this medicine in advance whenever they feel diarrhea is in the offing.
Antidepressant medicines in the tricyclic group can be used to treat irritable bowel syndromes. In most cases, it works best if diarrhea and pain are the major symptoms. Unlike antispasmodics, antidepressants should be taken more regularly. Therefore, antidepressant is often prescribed if you have frequent bad flare-ups and persistent symptoms that are relieved by other treatments.
Psychological treatment for IBS
Situations such as recurring thoughts of past abuse, examinations, work stress and family problems among others might trigger IBS symptoms. People with anxious characters may find IBS symptoms quite difficult to control. The relationship between nervous impulses, the brain, the mind and activity of internal organs, like gut is complex. Most people have found psychotherapy, stress counseling, relaxation techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy and other therapies, useful in minimizing symptoms of IBS.
Psychological treatment for IBS
Psychological treatments are often recommended for individuals with moderate to severe IBS, when other remedies have failed. It can also be used when psychological factors and stress are the possible cause of symptoms.
Drinks, foods and lifestyle
Take regular meals and take your time while eating. Avoid missing any meal or leaving longer gaps between meals. Drink at least seven to eight cups of water every day. This makes the stools soft and easy to pass through the gut. Restrict coffee and tea to three cups every day as caffeine might be a cause in some cases. Moreover, reduce the intake of fizzy drinks. Don’t take too much alcohol. Some individual report improvements in symptoms of IBS when they cut down alcohol intake. Limit the intake of fresh fruits to three portions per day.
If you have diarrhea symptoms, avoid sorbitol; a sweetener found available in sugar-free sweets (such as chewing gum, drinks and some slimming and diabetic products. If you experience a lot of bloating, increase your consumption of oats and linseeds as treatment for IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome tends to persist for a long time in most people with irritable bowel movements. However, the severity of these symptoms tends to wane and wax and you might have long spells with mild symptoms or without any symptom at all. The treatment for IBS can minimize symptoms when they appear. IBS does not cause bowel cancer, blockage and other serious medical conditions.