Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Everything You Need to Know

IBS causes, symptoms and treatments

Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms causes

Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that is often attributed to abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and other intestine-related conditions.

Although the cause of this condition is yet to be specified, some of its triggers are known.

Treatments tend to vary from dietary, pharmaceutical, and therapeutic measures. 

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? 

Pain following Intestinal disorder in the stomach, diarrhea, and constipation is known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

This syndrome often manifests in the large intestine. 

Most times, IBS is perceived as bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea, or constipation. IBS is a chronic illness that only gets cured on a long-term basis. 

According to research, IBS is regarded as the occurrence of pain in the abdominal region followed by a disturbed or changed bowel movement. 

Significantly, only a few individuals exhibit severe symptoms of this syndrome.

Amongst these few, many individuals preventively control their symptoms by managing their lifestyle, stress, and, more importantly, diet. 

Patients with rather severe symptoms treat this syndrome with professional counseling and medication. 

Signs and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? 

More than ten percent of the world’s population suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Patients suffering from this condition often experience constant abdominal pain and alteration in bowel movements

Often, changes in intestinal bacteria, diet, stress, and poor sleep attract these symptoms. Nevertheless, symptom triggers differ with persons. 

This makes it rather difficult to pinpoint certain foods or factors that trigger these symptoms in different individuals. This section will discuss the usual symptoms of IBS:

1. Abdominal cramp and pain

Abdominal cramp and pain is the typical symptom and major factor in diagnosing IBS.

According to a study on irritable bowel syndrome, it has been stated that abdominal pain and discomfort is the first symptom of IBS. Other signs then follow this. 

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The joint work of the brain and gut influences digestion in the body.

This occurs when the good bacteria living in the gut emits or produces signals, nerves, and hormones. 

Irritable bowel disorder disrupts the coordinated or cooperative signals in the gut. Hence, it results in painful contractions of the muscles in the digestive tract.

Patients mostly feel this pain in the lower abdomen. Sometimes, it is felt in the entire abdomen. This pain only reduces after a bowel movement. 

2. Mixed diarrhea and constipation

About 20% of patients suffering from IBS experience a mix of diarrhea and constipation.

Diarrhea and constipation in the case of IBS often happen with constant and chronic pain in the abdomen. 

According to a journal on IBS: pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and evidence-based medicine, disturbed defecation, and constipation are prevalent symptoms of this disorder.

Pain is quite a prevalent sign in the case of IBS. Most especially in these symptoms (diarrhea and constipation). Bowel movements only give patients temporary relief.

As it is, this condition also varies greatly from person to person.

It may be necessary to evaluate each individual based on the symptoms they exhibit. Rather than subscribe to a general recommendation. 

3. Notable changes in bowel movement 

Passing a hard stool can make a patient exhibit constipation signs.

This is a result of the fact that slow-moving feces in the intestine gets dehydrated. The intestine drains its water; it becomes hard as a result of this. 

Swift movement of stool in the intestine denies the intestines from sucking the water from it. This ultimately results in loose stool. Loose stool is one of the major characteristics of diarrhea.

According to a study, IBS disorder is perceived by a change in stool frequency or consistency.

IBS serves as a major factor that makes mucus fill up the stool. This particular symptom is not quite prevalent in other causes of constipation.

4. Bloating and Gassing 

Adulterated digestion in IBS results in increased gases in the gut. As a result of this, bloating occurs. This bloating leaves patients feeling uncomfortable.

A study showed that bloating is quite common in individuals with IBS disorder. It is a persistent symptom that interferes with the susceptible individuals’ daily activities.

Many patients with IBS registered bloating as one of the usual and long-lasting symptoms of this condition. 

5. Significant Food Intolerance 

Many individuals with this disorder have registered those certain foods call out these symptoms.

More than half the total percentage of individuals with this disorder do away with particular foods. 

In some cases, these patients even subtract many foods from their diet.

Research showed that about 20-65% of people suffering from IBS complain of adverse or abnormal responses to food. 

It is important to know that these food intolerances are not the same as allergies. Likewise, these trigger foods do not affect a significant change in digestion. 

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Although trigger food varies as persons are concerned, some common foods are gas-producing foods such as gluten, lactose, and FODMAPs.

Common Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The major causative factors of irritable bowel syndrome are yet to be established.

Nevertheless, numerous potential factors trigger or result in the disorder in vulnerable individuals. Amongst these causes are: 

Deficient General Diet

Consumption of low-fiber foods can result in constipation. Constipation happens to be a prevalent symptom of IBS. 

Scientific research has attributed deficient or unbalanced diet as a main cause of IBS. Many individuals eat spicy and sugary foods. These deficient diets sometimes cause this disorder. 

Strong emotions often influence the body’s functioning.

Strong emotions like stress or anxiety affect the nerves of the bowel in affected individuals. This results in disordered functioning in the gut.

Clinical studies have shown the effects of psychological stress on the alteration or influencing of the nervous system and gastrointestinal system.

Psychological stress contributes to the inconsistency of the gut and brain interaction. 

Infections

Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach is a result of infection.

This infection often results in the alteration of the bacterial population and nerve functioning in the bowel. 

According to research, enteric infections result in the continuous occurrence of IBS symptoms in vulnerable patients. 

More than one-quarter of the total percent of IBS incidents is owed to this cause.

Medication

Some antibiotics, painkillers, and antacids result in constipation or diarrhea.

Some of these medications are either used without prescription or naturally react negatively in susceptible people.

Research has shown that people may develop IBS disorder due to polypharmacy. 

Food (sugar lactose) Intolerance

Intake of less effective sugar lactose is one of the main causes of IBS in susceptible individuals. 

Sugar lactose is always present in dairy and processed foods.

A study significantly proves that lactose intolerance in IBD patients is relatively high and common. 

Sorbitol and fructose found in many syrups are perceived to be prevalent sugar forms that trigger IBS. 

Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The main aim of IBS treatment is to give patients relief from their symptoms. The course of treatment may differ depending on the form or severity of symptoms exhibited.

Properly treating IBS lies in the understanding of the disorder itself and how to go about treating it.

There are behavioral, pharmacologic, and dietary approaches that come in handy. 

It is important to ask your doctor questions about the disorder and register all perceived symptoms.

Maintaining a better relationship with your doctor enables you to control your symptoms better. 

Here are some of the ways to treat and control symptoms of IBS: 

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1. Medications

Most IBS conditions are best treated or controlled using certain recommended medications. These medications include: 

Smooth muscle relaxants: they are the best medication for intestinal cramps and their prevention.

Low-dose antidepressants: this medication gives relief for painful diarrhea. It reduces stress in the gut and nervous system.

Laxative: this works perfectly well for patients who suffer from incessant constipation.

Antibiotics: purposely to change the formation of the gut in cases of poorly digested carbohydrates. 

According to research, several cases of IBS disorder have been treated using medication. Medications like rifaximin, probiotics, and antibiotics. 

2. Dietary Modification

Diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramping are likely to react positively to dietary changes.

For instance, IBS patients might feel slight relief from reducing consumption of caffeinated foods. 

Research shows dietary modification as a primary non-pharmaceutical remedy for IBS disorder. Including healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables in one’s diet can be quite favorable.

Working hand in hand with a nutritionist is mostly advisable. This is to ensure you are not excluding the nutrients you need, no matter your diet plan.

3. Psychotherapy Sessions

Psycho-therapeutic assistance serves a significant purpose in treating IBS. This is because it helps to manage stress, stressful past events, or present stressful conditions. 

Anxiety and depression happen with IBS first-stage symptoms. For patients whose IBS symptoms are emotionally stress-related, psychological intervention can be a good option. 

According to research, hypnotherapy proves to be a helpful remedy in the case of refractory patients. 

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a skilled medicinal remedy. It helps to keep fibromyalgia, migraines, insomnia, and anxiety related to IBS in check. 

Research has proven that acupuncture serves as an alternative remedy for IBS disorder in most cases. Acupuncture has a positive gastrointestinal influence. It reduces pain-related feelings. 

5. Therapeutic Massage 

A further study has shown therapeutic massage to be an effective way of easing the body of pain, anxiety, and stress.

Therapeutic massage helps to prevent anxiety and stress in IBS patients. 

Can you cure IBS permanently? 

It is quite feasible to control the mild signs and symptoms of IBS. You can achieve this by learning how to make changes in diet and lifestyle and manage stress. 

It is essential to avoid foods that trigger the symptoms of IBS in you.  Rest as much as possible, exercise regularly, and take enough fluid daily.

According to research, IBS can be treated or managed by adjusting to one’s diet and using prescribed medications. 

If a person’s condition proves severe, such a person may need more than mere lifestyle changes.

Such people should visit a doctor and get the necessary treatments.

Your doctor may suggest or recommend dietary changes, medications such as psyllium or methylcellulose, loperamide, colestipol, and others.

These drugs are mainly to control abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, amongst all others. 

To successfully treat IBS, one must avoid all foods that trigger the symptoms.

More importantly, it is essential to keep to the doctor’s recommendations. 

Foods to eat when diagnosed with IBS

Dietary factors play a vital role in IBS. Certain foods are most likely to worsen symptoms. 

Food such as chocolates, alcohol, or any dairy products. These foods can worsen diarrhea and constipation in patients.

On the other hand, fruits and vegetables can worsen stomach bloating and pain in the stomach. Science is yet to determine if food intolerances or allergies trigger this disorder.

Here are a few foods to include in your diet: 

  • Consume fruits without the skins.
  • Collect and consume food with low-fat content.
  • Eat all meat, fish, and chicken.
  • Cook all meals by boiling, grilling, baking, or steaming with little or no oil at all. Employ the use of cooking spray instead of oil. 
  • Include foods rich in fiber carb in your diet. They help patients with this disorder. 
  • Increase your water intake to a significant amount of about 2-liters per day.
  • Eat all cooked vegetables except for cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. They might cause your stomach to bloat. Nevertheless, if these vegetables are your favorite and do not trigger IBS symptoms in you, you can take them.
  • Dairy products trigger IBS symptoms in people with lactose intolerance. In case you are one of those people, consider switching to a Lactaid pill or lactose-free products.

Takeaway

Irritable bowel syndrome remains a poly-factorial common disorder. Scientists are yet to fully understand the scope of IBS.

Treatments administered are often based on the symptoms perceived.

As the case remains, symptoms differ from person to person. Symptoms such as persistent diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and more. 

It is mostly advisable that IBS patients should have a more familiar relationship with their healthcare providers. This is a result of the need to take note of the peculiar persistent symptoms.