Really, IBS is a debilitating condition affecting large bowel and characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea. IBS is not a disease, but it’s a syndrome, a group of symptoms that often occurs together without any known cause. IBS doesn’t cause permanent harm to intestine or lead to serious disease, but it makes person feel discomfort and distress.
Symptoms of IBS
Symptoms of IBS are more common in women than in men and begin to appear before 35 years of age in 50 percent people. The symptoms can vary from person to person. IBS is mostly present as abdominal pain often relived by a bowel movement, bloating and discomfort. Some have either constipation or diarrhea; while other may suffer from alternate diarrhea and constipation.
Symptoms of IBS are triggered by stress, large meals, gas, medications, certain foods, caffeine, and alcohol as colon is more sensitive and reactive to these factors.
Stress as a main IBS triggers
According to a study result published in American Journal of Physiology, different types of stress play important roles in the onset and modulation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Enhanced stress is associated with changes in brain activity in limbic regions, which is manifested by a sensitized gastrointestinal feedback. In diagnostic interviews with IBS patients, experts found out that about 60% of IBS patients meet the criteria for stress induced disorders like generalized anxiety disorders and 20% have depression.
In IBS suffers stress-related abdominal pain, and diarrhoea occur with more frequency and severity.
Dealing with IBS
Symptoms of IBS can be controlled with diet management, stress management and medications.
- Diet management
Careful eating habit helps to alleviate symptoms of IBS to a great extent. IBS suffers must watch, notice and avoid the foods causing abdominal distress. Researchers have shown that high- fibre diet keeps colon distended and prevents spasm. Fibres also help to soften stool and prevent constipation. Increase fibre rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cereals slowly as sudden addition lead to gas and bloating. Drink enough water to flush out colon contents thoroughly. Avoid carbonated beverages, chewing gums and eating too quickly as they can lead to gas formation. Intake of larger meals cause cramping and diarrhea, so eats small meals at the frequent intervals of time.
- Stress management
Stress can reduce with relaxation therapies to relax body muscles, counselling by a psychologist or psychiatrist, deep breathing to calm yourself and regular exercises such as walking and adequate sleep. Various studies suggest that management of stress becomes one of the most vital parts in IBS treatment.
Anti-diarrhea medications are useful to control symptoms of diarrhea. Anticholinergic drugs are applicable to control painful muscle spasm. Antidepressants are recommended considering a stress as a triggering factor of IBS symptoms.
Antibiotics are useful for those people whose symptoms are mainly from overgrowth of intestinal bacteria. A study published in New England Journal of Medicine shows that antibiotic therapy provides good relief in IBS patient about up to 10 weeks.
Probiotics is a natural alternative and promising form of therapy to offer relief from IBS symptoms. Probiotics improved dysfunctional relationship between the indigenous flora and the host in IBS along with bacterial displacement and alternation in luminal contents, according to a study “The Efficacy of Probiotics in IBS" published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.
Probiotic species are generally Bifidobacterium, lactobacillus and streptococcus delivered in therapeutic doses, which replace pathogenic gram-negative Escherichia, Salmonella and Shigella from an intestine.
Probiotics are available as yogurt and enteric-coated capsules. Purpose of the enteric-coated capsule is to supply probiotics alive in the intestine and have the nutrients necessary for colony formation.
Alternative therapies for IBS
Mayo clinic suggested some alternative therapies for controlling symptoms of IBS.
- Acupuncture-Acupuncture relaxes muscle spasm and improves bowel function.
- Herbs-Peppermint is a natural herb that relaxes smooth muscles of the intestine.
- Yoga and Meditation-These are effective ways to manage stress naturally and alleviate IBS symptoms.
Homoeopathy had been found effective in controlling the symptoms of IBS. Similarly Ayurveda and Naturopathy also helps patient to improve their quality of life.
These remedies definitely help you to alleviate IBS symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.