Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition characterised by occasional diarrhoea, cramping, gas, constipation and bloating. The disease does not exhibit severe symptoms in most people since they can go for days or weeks without experiencing any of the symptoms.
Read the excerpt below to understand the causes, diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS occurs when intestinal muscles contract abnormally. Strong contractions will cause diarrhoea, while weak contractions will cause constipation. People with a nervous system problem in their intestines may also experience IBS. The nerves send the wrong signals to the brain, hence causing abnormalities such as intestinal pain, diarrhoea or constipation. Intestinal infections, inflammations and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth may also cause this problem.
People with IBS experience the symptoms after eating specific foods. For some, it could be proteins such as beans; for others, it could be certain drinks. People suffering from the condition may experience severe symptoms when stressed or depressed. Hormonal changes, in women especially, may also trigger it.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis
To diagnose this problem, you must experience the symptoms for more than two times each month and for a minimum period of six months. Your doctor may also conduct a blood test to identity IBS-causing antibodies in your intestines. Other tests used include colonoscopy and CT and X-ray scans.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment
Below are some methods to manage and treat IBS:
This problem presents itself as IBS-C (IBS with constipation), IBS-D (IBS with diarrhoea) or IBS-M (IBS with both diarrhoea and constipation). Your doctor may give you medication to counter the diarrhoea and constipation symptoms. For instance, you may receive anti-diarrhoea medicine such as Imodium to relieve diarrhoea symptoms and laxatives to stop constipation.
2. Food Diary
People with IBS should keep a food diary to help them identify foods that trigger the condition. More often than not, fatty foods, carbonated drinks, alcohol and dairy products will trigger symptoms. Patients are advised to adopt a low-FODMAP diet to help them in the management and treatment of IBS.
3. Stress Management
Your doctor will recommend stress management strategies if stressful situations trigger your IBS. They may include medical therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction. He or she may also advise you to engage in stress-relieving activities such as yoga and meditation. In some cases, you may receive antidepressants or beta-blockers.
IBS is a condition that can be managed and treated at an early stage. As a rule, you should not self-medicate; instead, visit a doctor for professional diagnosis and treatment. For more information on IBS treatment, contact local professionals.