What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a medical condition in which the patient has trouble with bowel habits along with pain/discomfort in the stomach. The bowel movement will be either less or more than normal (diarrhea or constipation). The stool might look thin & hard, or soft & liquid.
There are four types of the condition:
IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
Mixed IBS (IBS-M) alternates between constipation and diarrhea
Unsub typed IBS (IBS-U) for people who don't fit into the above types
Although IBS is not life-threatening, it can be a long-lasting problem for the patient which might affect the quality of life.
Here are the IBS Symptoms:
People with IBS have symptoms that can include:
Constipation alternating with diarrhea
Belly pains or cramps, usually in the lower half of the belly, that get worse after meals and feel better after a bowel movement
A lot of gas or bloating
Harder or looser stools than normal
Mucus in your poop
Feeling like you still need to poop after you just did
Tiredness & Headaches
Anxiety & Depression
Heartburn and indigestion
Needing to pee a lot
The symptoms are very similar to another diagnosis as well, but if it’s IBS, you’ll likely have these symptoms weekly for 3 - 6 months.
Red-flag symptoms include:
• Rectal bleeding
• Weight loss
• Fever, vomiting, and anemia
What are the causes of IBS?
The precise cause of IBS isn't known so far. Factors that appear to play a role include:
Muscle contractions in the intestine.
Faster and slower muscle contraction in the walls of the intestine can cause Diarrhea and constipation resulting in symptoms like gas, bloating or hard, dry stools. Long-term effects can lead to IBS.
Abnormalities (Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines) in the nerves in your digestive system may cause pain, diarrhea or constipation leading to IBS.
IBS can develop after a severe episode of bacterial or viral diarrhea (gastroenteritis. An excess of bacteria in the gut (bacterial overgrowth) can also lead to IBS.
Early life stress.
People with Stressful and abusive childhood tend to have more symptoms of IBS.
Changes in gut microbes.
There are numerous healthy microorganisms that live in our gut but a slight change in the microbes can lead to IBS as well.
Major Risk factors
Occasional signs and symptoms are common occurrences. But you should be cautious if you:
Are young. People under the age of 50 are more prone to IBS.
Are female. There is no conclusive theory but women suffer twice as much from IBS as men. It is believed that the change in hormonal levels during and after menstruation might cause IBS.
Have a family history of IBS. A specific genetic defect, a mutation of the SCN5A gene causes IBS to run in families.
Have anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. History of Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse can also lead to IBS
IBS Treatment & remedies:
IBS is a treatable disease, but there is no generic treatment that works. You should consult thoroughly with your doctor to devise a treatment plan.
You’ll need to learn what your triggers are. You may need to make some lifestyle changes also and take proper medication.
Some suggested diet and lifestyle changes:
IBS will improve over time with a few basic changes in diet and activities. Here are some tips:
Avoid caffeine (in coffee, tea, and soda).
Add fiber to your diet with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
Drink at least three to four glasses of water per day.
Learn to relax, either by getting more exercise or by reducing stress in your life.
Limit the amount of milk or cheese you consume.
Eat small meals more often than large meals.
Track the foods you eat so you can determine which foods trigger IBS episodes.