Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by the presence of a group of symptoms and signs. It is a long term condition of the digestive system mainly associated with the problem of the large intestine.
The main cause of IBS is not clearly known yet. But through research, it has been found that IBS is mostly related to the following:
Increased gut sensitivity and causes problems in food digestion. It causes altered bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation) because of food passing too slowly or quickly through the gut.
Another factor associated with IBS is stress.
The sign and symptoms of IBS varies from person to person and most of them can resemble other diseases. The sign of symptoms include:
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Food intolerance
- Altered bowel habits (diarrhea or constipations)
- Increased gas
- Mucus in stool
There are some triggering factors which stimulate IBS.
Food: Some people have intolerance to certain foods such as milk and dairy products, Chocolates, fruits, fat, spices, vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, beans, cabbage etc.), carbonated beverages and alcohol.
Stress: Most people with IBS find that stress aggravates the symptoms.
Hormones: Hormone may also play a role in triggering IBS specially for women.
Other illness like acute bacterial infections also exaggerate IBS.
Who are at increased risk
Person with family history of IBS (due to genes and shared factors of family environment)
Person having depression, anxiety or other mental health problems
Treatment of IBS
The treatment of IBS is based on the relief of symptoms. There is no cure for IBS, but the symptoms can often be managed by the following ways:
- Dietary and lifestyle changes:
Eat at regular times and it is important to take every meal daily and at the same time.
In case of lactose intolerance, one can take milk substitutes like yogurt. If dairy foods need to be avoided completely, adequate protein, calcium and B vitamins from other sources have to be ensured
Avoid food which may cause gas (Fruits, some vegetables, beverages etc.)
Ensure taking plenty of fluid
Reduce stress level: Stress and anxiety stimulate IBS, therefore these need to be avoided as much as possible
Avoid the trigger factors which aggravate the symptoms of IBS
Exercise helps to reduce stress
Ensure proper and enough sleep
- Medications: Antibiotics, other medications and fibre supplements (e.g. Milk of Magnesia) may be prescribed if symptoms become moderate or severe
- Counselling: Counselling may help if depression or stress aggravates symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy and Hypnotherapy works good in such cases.
Complications of IBS
Some complications arises on the consequences of IBS such as:
- Hemorrhoids (Due to Diarrhoea or Constipation)
- Malnutrition (Rarely happens due to limitation of food taking)
- Decreased quality of life as it is a chronic long term condition
With appropriate medical and psychological treatment and disciplined lifestyle, one may lead a normal and active life with IBS.