Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder characterized with abnormal functioning of the intestines. A person suffering from the disorder will complain of abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation and bloating. It is not a disease but a disorder that causes distress and a lot of discomfort. IBS should not be a cause of alarm. This is because it does not cause permanent harm to the intestines. The disorder can also be managed efficiently with a simple diet and lifestyle change. Medication may be provided in severe cases where IBS is disabling. Almost everyone can suffer from the disorder and is more common in women that in men. However, the exact cause of IBS is not known. It is simply a disorder that affects normal functioning of the intestines, can affect the gut at large including the mouth and anus.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact cause of IBS is not known. However, research shows that most people who suffer the disorder are sensitive to certain food or stress. Therefore, the immune system will often fight infections is affected or maybe involved
- Lack of normal motility in the colon can cause IBS. In this case, strong muscle contractions will occur.
- IBS also occurs when fluids in the colon move fast. This means that the intestines will lose its ability to absorb fluids normally. This can result in diarrhea or watery stools. When excessive fluid is absorbed, constipation occurs.
- Eating foods that you may be allergic to causes IBS. This is because it will interfere with normal functioning of the intestines.
- Serotonin is also linked to irritable bowel syndrome. It is a chemical that sends messages from one part of the body to the other. It is located in gastrointestinal tract and when there is an imbalance of the chemical in the intestines, bowel movement is interfered with. Cramping and pain in the abdomen or stomach will occur. In some patients diarrhea will occur.
- Bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract is also known to cause irritable bowel syndrome. However, the condition is always referred to as post infectious IBS.
- Celiac disease can cause IBS. A patient suffering from the disease cannot digest gluten found in barley, rye and wheat. Eating these foods therefore can cause damage in the intestines. This is because the immune system will respond by damaging small parts of the intestines thus, causing the disorder.
- Antibiotics can also cause IBS because they kill good or harmless bacteria in the intestines.
- Acute inflammation of the stomach can cause IBS and is often accompanied by bacteria and vomiting.
When you are exposed to any of these agents, you are bound to suffer mild or severe symptoms. Symptoms of IBS can start at any age. However, they are common at late teenage and early adulthood.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Symptoms of IBS vary from one individual to the other. They include
- Abdominal pain.
- Bloating that subsides at night and starts again the following day.
- Golf ball sensation in the throat especially between your meals and does not interfere with your eating or swallowing of food.
- Heartburn or a burning sensation behind your breastbone.
- Painful swallowing of food, drinks and in severe cases saliva.
- Sticking of food in the esophagus-this calls for proper investigation to rule out other serious conditions.
- Stomach ulcer like symptoms may also develop and can only be confirmed by medical tests.
- Feeling full after small meals and if not treated, you may not be able to finish a meal.
- Bloating after meals.
- Small bowel including gurgling noises when passing stool. This can be quite embarrassing and is known as borborygmi. Severe bloating can cause abdominal tenderness.
- Large bowel movements can also occur and is often associated with abdominal pain especially on the right side of your abdomen, right under ribs or lower side. The pain gets worse when passing stool. Pain tucked under the left ribs is even worse because it can enter left armpit and cause a lot of discomfort. Large bowel is also associated with flatulence, severe stabbing pain in the rectum, feeling of incomplete and empty bowels, loss of mucus from the rectum and erratic bowel habits that alternate from diarrhea to constipation.
- Frequent need to urinate.
- Tiredness, fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea.
- Depressive symptoms.
- Pain during sex especially in the left side for women.
- Sleep disturbance.
Unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding and change of bowel habits that last for more than 6 weeks is common in elderly persons and requires urgent medical attention for further diagnosis.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Home Remedies
Irritable bowel syndrome is not a serious condition. It can be managed efficiently by a simple change of lifestyle. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Fiber– It is important to incorporate a lot of fiber in your diet to manage IBS. Fiber and other bulking agents in food are not absorbed into the body. They always remain in the gut and are eliminated as feces. Therefore, ensure to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, cereals, brown rice, brown bread, oats and other whole meals. High fiber foods alleviate IBS symptoms and enhance proper digestion. This means that enhances normal functioning of the digestive system and prevents abnormal functioning of the intestines. Eat nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as pectins to alleviate IBS symptoms. You can also find insoluble fiber in maize, wheat bran and vegetables.
- Healthy Diet– Foods and drinks can help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. A healthy diet is very crucial. Therefore ensure your meals consist of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables and sources of vitamins. Eat your food regularly and at a lower pace to enhance proper digestion and prevent IBS. Skipping meals can cause abnormal functioning of the intestine for a long period.
- Drink Plenty of Water– It is essential to drink plenty of water. At least eight cups of water or fluids a day will help to enhance proper digestion of food and balance chemicals in the intestines thus alleviating symptoms of IBS. Additionally, water helps in stool passage because it keeps it soft. It eliminates painful passage along the gut. Avoid caffeinated and fizzy drinks. Instead, settle for herbal teas to manage the condition.
- Avoid High Fiber Foods– Fiber is great in managing IBS however; avoid high fiber food because they can aggregate the situation.
- Fruit– Ensure to take fresh fruits in moderation, say 80grams a day.
- Avoid Sorbitol– If you suffer diarrhea, it is essential to avoid sorbitol by all means. It is found in sugar sweets including chewing gums and in drinks.
- Oats– Take a lot of oats and whole meals to eliminate bloating and a lot of wind in the intestines. You can always have porridge in the morning as opposed to tea.
- Try This– Try to avoid food that causes IBS. Eat foods that will help to enhance normal functioning of your intestines, boost your immune system and helps to balance chemicals in the intestines.
- Exercise– Regular exercise is also an excellent way to ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Run, jog and engage in light aerobics. They will help to reduce upsets in the stomach as well as emotional upsets and stress.
- Peppermint oil- Peppermint oil has been widely used across the world by several people in fighting IBS. It helps in the reduction of abdominal pain and bloating that are experienced by the patient. In fact, the use of peppermint oil is able to block the movement of calcium into the muscle cells that are found within the intestines in order to eliminate the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, when using the oil, avoid its excessive use since that may lead to other unpleasant conditions like loss of appetite, heart problems among other disorders.
- Cinnamon- This herbal remedy can be very effective in inhibiting diarrhea. The best way to use it is by sprinkling it on the food of the patient. It can be used on foods like buttered toast and oatmeal. In fact, cinnamon is also useful in keeping the body healthy by lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Fennel and dill- Fennel and dill are also other effective herbs that can be used in suppressing Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Take the seeds of Fennel and dill and use them in brewing a calming tea that can help in reducing the symptoms of the disorder. It is effective in fighting bloating and gas.
- Ginger- Ginger is among the most effective herbal remedies that are recommended for patients who are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Adding ginger into the food of the patient can be effective in regulating the digestive system. It helps in inhibiting such symptoms like nausea, indigestion, morning sickness among others.
- Chamomile- This herbal remedy is recommended for internal use in eliminating the symptoms of IBS in patients. As a result of the calming properties of Chamomile, it is an effective remedy for gastrointestinal spasms among other symptoms of the condition. Taking the remedy as a beverage before bed is able to also fight indigestion and gas in the stomach.
Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Diet plays a crucial role in alleviating IBS symptoms. A balanced diet is vital because it helps to supply the body with essential nutrients and enhance normal functioning of the intestines. Make adjustments in your diet and include plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber and proteins. Avoid meals and foods that can make diarrhea worse including milk products and foods high in sugar.
Add fiber to your diet to reduce constipation and drink plenty of water. More importantly, keep track of what you eat and learn to listen to your body. This will help you to identify foods that worsen your condition and foods that improve your symptoms. Ensure to eat slowly and in a quite relaxing environment to relieve IBS symptoms. This will enhance proper digestion and absorption of essential nutrients in the body.
Prevention of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome can cause a lot of discomfort. It can also be embarrassing when you pass stools or release gas because of gurgling noises.
- Consider a lot of fiber in your diet. It enhances digestion and prevents stomach upsets. It is however, essential to start with small amounts. Increase the amount gradually to prevent upsets.
- Avoid fizzy and caffeinated drinks. They cause and make IBS symptoms worse. Incase of diarrhea, avoid milk and coffee because they are great offenders
- Keep a list of foods that give you wind, foods that upset your stomach and foods that cause indigestion. Additionally, avoid strong spices in your food to prevent irritable bowel syndrome.
- Learn to eat a balanced meal in small portions, in a quite environment and eat slowly. This enhances proper digestion, normal functioning of intestines and prevents IBS.
- Limit alcohol intake
- Hot water bottles, electric blankets and hot packs alleviate IBS symptoms and prevent the disorder. Use them as your regular heat treatment.
- Engage in regular exercises and physical activity to enhance digestion, reduce stress and prevent IBS
- Avoid excessive worrying because it can lead to excessive absorption of fluids in the body. It can cause constipation and diarrhea as well as digestive problems among others.
- Learn to relax through yoga and other relaxation techniques to prevent IBS.
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