Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the colon (large intestine). This is a chronic condition, so once you have it, you have to learn how to manage it long-term. Fortunately, in most cases, IBS can be treated by making a few changes in your lifestyle, such as the food you eat and what you drink, having enough exercise, and more. If you have IBS, you may have abdominal cramping along with pain, as well as constipation or diarrhea. You may also notice changes in your bowel habits, such as stool consistency or frequency. You may feel gassy (flatulence), notice mucus coming from your rectum, have a distended abdomen, and feel bloated all the time.
You will likely be able to control your symptoms by following a strict diet, and easing any stress you may be feeling. Consult with a doctor for a proper diagnosis and diet that will be of help. If you still have problems after making these changes, your doctor can provide you with medication to help you with your symptoms.
There may be times when your symptoms go away completely, especially if you watch your diet and stress level. The symptoms may never come back, but in other cases, they may pop up periodically throughout your life. You should see your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms, or you have a change in your bowel habits. If you have lost weight without trying to, notice rectal bleeding, or you have abdominal pain that occurs during the night, it may mean something more serious than IBS.
IBS is not one disease, but instead it is a cluster of symptoms. Your doctor can perform tests to determine if you have IBS, or if your symptoms are caused by something else. If you do have IBS, the doctor may suggest that you see a dietician, who can help you control your diet. A dietician is also helpful if you have IBS, as they can help you come up with the best diet plan for you.
If you do have IBS and have constipation, you should avoid eating certain foods. Some of these foods include refined cereals and breads, chips, cookies, and dairy products. You should also stay away from alcohol, carbonated drinks, and coffee. To help with the constipation, add fiber to your diet by eating vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole gran bead. You should also drink prune juice or eat dried prunes, and drink enough water each day. If your constipation persists, there are over the counter medications you can take, or your doctor may prescribe something for you.
If your IBS symptoms are causing you to have diarrhea, avoid eating large meals, fatty and fried foods, having too much fiber in your diet, and drinking caffeine, and alcohol. You should also not consume food that is too hot or too cold, such as very hot soup or very cold ice water. Avoid eating cabbage, onions, and broccoli, as they can cause gas, which will only make you feel worse.
Anxiety and stress can make your IBS symptoms worse. Try to avoid problems at home, problems at work, and financial problems. Instead get enough sleep and exercise, and do things that you enjoy. Some ways to feel more relaxed include listening to some soft music, taking a walk, taking a warm bath, and reading a good book. Join a gym or get together with friends to exercise to keep you more motivated.
Talk to someone that you can trust if you do start feeling stressed, such as your spouse, a coworker, or family member. There is also behavioral therapy that you can try, which is using different techniques to help you feel calm. Some of these techniques may include psychotherapy, biofeedback, and relaxation therapy. Breathing techniques can be beneficial to help ease stress.
Plan ahead for everything to help with any anxiety. For example, if you know you have a certain bill due at the end of the year, start a savings plan now so you will have the money to pay for it. This will keep you from feeling stressed and have anxiety. Plan ahead each week making a list of things that need to be done, and make sure you do them. This can help you feel more in control of your life.
There are foods that can trigger IBS. Some of the most common foods are chocolate, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, fruits, fats, milk, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and broccoli. Not all of these foods may be a problem for you, however. You will have to determine what works best. If you notice when you eat something and your symptoms flare up, take this food out of your diet for at least two weeks to see if it helps.
If can be helpful to keep a food diary every day. This can help you determine what foods bring on your IBS symptoms. If you do keep a diary, take it to your doctor with you on your next appointment. This can help the doctor provide you with the best treatment plan.
More women than men are afflicted with IBS, and this may be due to hormonal changes. For many women, IBS symptoms are much worse during their menstrual periods. If this is you, you can plan ahead, and be very careful about what you eat and drink during this time each month.
Doctors are not exactly sure what causes IBS, but they have some ideas. One theory is having abnormal serotonin levels in the gut can cause it. You have probably her serotonin levels help regulate your mood, as it is found in the brain. This is true, but serotonin is also found in your colon, which aids in bowel movements. If this is the case with you, your doctor may prescribe you an antidepressant to balance out your serotonin levels.
Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine can also cause IBS symptoms. If you have this problem, you doctor will likely prescribe you an antibiotic to treat your symptoms. When the infection is gone, the symptoms should go away. Some people that have a type of bacterial infection, such as gastroenteritis, can develop IBS. If you have this disorder, make sure you tell your doctor. If you need any medications for this condition, make sure you doctor knows which medications you may already be taking.
IBS is not a life threatening disease, but its symptoms can disrupt your life. If you have tried making needed changes in your diet, exercising every week, keeping stress and anxiety at bay, etc., and still have symptoms, it is time to see your doctor. They may have other suggestions on how you can control your IBS, or they may give you certain medications to see if they help you feel better.