Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a functional bowel disorder. Also called spastic colon, IBS is a disorder characterized by a number of symptoms. IBS symptoms include chronic abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating and changes in bowel movements that do not seem to have an organic cause. IBS symptoms may, in some cases, be relieved by passing a bowel movement, but not in all cases. Diarrhea and constipation often dominate other IBS symptoms.
The causes of IBS symptoms are often unknown, and can drastically change the quality of a person’s life. As anyone who has ever had an upset stomach with diarrhea or constipation can attest to, they are uncomfortable, tiring and trying. Living with them as a chronic condition can vastly complicated a person’s life. IBS symptoms may appear without warning after an infection or after some stressful or traumatic event. IBS symptoms may also appear suddenly and without any prior medical indicators as part of maturation.
There are a number of conditions which can present with IBS symptoms, and may be misidentified as IBS. celiac disease, parasitic infections like giardiasis, other mild infections and imbalances in the intestinal flora, and any of several inflammatory bowel diseases. IBS cannot be cured, so it is important to make sure that the cause of the IBS symptoms is not some other disease which can be better treated.
While IBS has no cure, it also very rarely develops into any more serious conditions. Doctors and patients are left with no option other than the simple management of IBS symptoms. Along with chronic discomfort and fatigue, uncontrolled IBS symptoms can be damaging to a person’s self-image, to their relationships and social life, and to their career as IBS often leads to an increase in absent days from work while the sufferer attempts to deal with their IBS symptoms.
There is some good news, though, for people who experience IBS symptoms. There are some treatment options available which have proven to be effective in relieving IBS symptoms. With the aid of medications, doctor advice and lifestyle changes, IBS symptoms can be managed and improved, greatly improving a patient’s quality of life. People who experience uncontrolled IBS symptoms suffer from a chronic disease which can very drastically damage their quality of life.
Among the known effective methods for controlling IBS symptoms, the foremost is diet. It is, after all, the most obvious solution. It may not have the most compelling results though. A variety of different food intolerances may appear to be IBS and present with IBS symptoms, such as lactose intolerance. As a result, it is not uncommon to attempt milk-restricted diets to see if those produce an improvement in IBS symptoms. Evidence to support other restrictive diets may be incomplete, though. It seems that for some people with IBS symptoms, the mere act of eating can trigger a response, which may complicate testing. IBS symptoms have, in some studies, seemed aggravated by fats and fructose, though.
In patients whose IBS symptoms present with predominately constipation, high soluble fiber diets and fiber supplementation have proven useful. Insoluble fiber does not seem to improve symptoms. Unfortunate, in some patients increased fiber may lead to more stomach irritation, and might not improve the pain related to IBS symptoms, while it does help regulate bowel movements. In some studies, soluble fiber supplements have seemed to result in benefits for patients, but perhaps only after an uncomfortable adjustment period.
Many medications are available which may improve IBS symptoms in some patients, ranging from laxatives to antidepressants. How effective they are depends on the individual and exact treatments may vary – but unsatisfactory results from medical options inspire a number of people to seek alternative solutions to managing their IBS symptoms. Probiotics and peppermint oil seem to be among the more effective methods of providing relief for IBS symptoms.
Comments are closed