Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is also termed as spastic colon. This is a health problem that concerns the body’s digestive system. This is characterised by alteration of bowel habits bloating, chronic abdominal pain and discomfort in the digestive tract. Since there is an alteration in the bowel habits, the individual suffering from IBS can either experience LBM or constipation.
According to NHS Scotland, one in five people may experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at some point in their life. Normally the disease is first detected in people when they are between 20 and 30 years old. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
Signs and Symptoms of IBS
Primarily, people with IBS experience discomfort associated with frequent alteration of bowel habits; constipation and diarrhea. Abdominal pain is another common symptom to IBS. There are also other symptoms such as the following:
- Feeling of being bloated
- A need for frequent bowel movements
- Feeling of incomplete defecation
In most cases, IBS patients experience some sort of relief after the defecating. Studies have shown that 60% of IBS patients are diagnosed with anxiety, depression and psychological disorder. Therefore, bowel movement tends to be unpredictable considering the signs and symptoms. It is also common for IBS patients to experience gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, headache and fatigue.
What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Although there are a number of hypotheses on IBS, the cause is still unknown. However, it is reviewed that patients who have gone through acute gastrointestinal infection may have greater chances of experiencing IBS. In another viewpoint, depression, anxiety, prolonged fever and young age are some of the risk factors to IBS.
On the physiological aspect, IBS is explained further through the functioning of the intestinal tract. When IBS occurs, contraction in the intestines is stronger and longer lasting as compared to the normal intestinal contractions which follows a coordinated rhythm as soon as food enters the stomach. The normal intestinal contraction occurs from the duodenum down to the rectum. The bloated feeling in IBS is because of food moving from the stomach to the intestines in an abnormal pace which tends to be very fast. Apart from bloating, patient also experiences diarrhea.
IBS can also happen the other way around. Food processed from the stomach to the intestines slows down causing the stool to harden and dry-up. In this case, constipation is experienced.
Patients with IBS may also encounter abnormal levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical which is responsible in the normal functioning of the brain. This chemical also functions in the normal functioning of the digestive system. The abnormality of the bowel movement of IBS patients can possibly have an imbalance of good bacteria in the intestine.
What Triggers IBS?
What triggers IBS vary from person to person. Some of the elements or factors that trigger IBS are the following:
- Food Intake – Although there are no specific food types that cause IBS, there are examples of food that causes the symptoms. This example of foods can cause either diarrhea or constipation: alcohol, milk, chocolate. Examples of food that cause bloating are vegetables and fruits.
- Hormones – While IBS happens more frequently in women, it is studied that hormonal changes is a factor to this condition. Actually, when women have their menstrual period, the signs and symptoms worsen.
- Stress – Stressful events in the life of IBS patients actually worsen the sign and symptoms. Although stress magnifies the symptoms, it is not a factor that causes IBS.
IBS Home Remedies That Can Make a Difference
There’s a lot that you can do yourself to prevent the uncomfortable side effects of irritable bowel syndrome. Nobody enjoys the cramping, bloating or gas that you get with this disease. Although our bodies are all different, there are some IBS home remedies that you can try to alleviate the symptoms.
The benefits of working out to reduce stress, anxiety and depression are renowned, particularly when done regularly. Exercise will also help IBS. This is because anything that lowers stress can help reduce discomfort in the bowel through stimulating regular intestinal contractions. If you don’t exercise regularly already, just 30 minutes a day of mild exercise, 5 days a week, can make a big difference.
Learning how to relax can be of great benefit to anybody.Even more so if you are suffering from IBS. Three relaxation techniques that have been identified as being useful in this respect by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders include:
- diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing
- progressive muscle relaxation
- visualization/positive imagery
Eat More Fibre
Fibre is a difficult one for sufferers of IBS. Although it can help relieves some symptoms such as constipation, it may make gas and cramps worse. The trick is to gradually increase your intake of high fibre foods over a number of weeks. These foods should be beans, fruits and vegetables.
Take Peppermint Oil Capsules
Peppermint is renowned as a digestive aid and used by millions in order to help support the healthy digestion of foods and to improve gut health. As a natural digestive aid, peppermint oil can relieve stomach pain by reducing abdominal discomfort and bloating. Peppermint Oil Capsules are a safe and natural way of combating IBS. Take one 50mg capsule before each meal, up to a maximum of three per day.
Cut Down On Dairy
Many people who are lactose intolerant also have IBS. Some IBS sufferers find great benefit when they cut down on dairy products in their diet. In some cases, your doctor may suggest avoiding dairy products completely, in that case you’ll need to make sure that you take on enough protein and calcium from other sources, making sure that you maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
Probiotic Supplements Can Help
Adding natural supplements to your diet can help with IBS by generally supporting digestive health. Amongst the many, we recommend:
Colon Formula with Probiotics – a unique combination of Aloe Vera, Cascara Sagrada, Liquorice, Dandelion, Cranberry & Probiotic Acidophilus. Can be beneficial.
Detox & Cleanse Capsules – contain a specially formulated blend of cleansing botanicals including aloe vera and cranberry, fortified with dietary fibre and probiotic bacteria to support digestion and detoxification.
Pro Billion Daily Capsules – Probiotics, the “friendly bacteria” found in your gut, play an important role in digestion. Pro Billion Daily offers 1 billion viable bacteria units in each capsule, helping you to support your gut flora, all within one vegetarian capsule.
Pro Bio Live Max 6 Billion CFU Veg Capsules – a slightly stronger probiotic capsule, these contain 6 billion viable bacteria units within a vegetarian capsule.
Pro Billion X20 Capsules – these powerful Lindens Probiotic X20 Capsules each have an incredible 20 BILLION viable bacteria in each vegetarian capsule.
Pro Bio Live Plus (+dietary fibre) Capsules – these probiotic capsule each contain 1.5 billion viable bacteria, fortified with 2 kinds of dietary fibre to help you help your gut with one easy-swallow daily capsule.
Could you be suffering from Coeliac Disease?
Often the symptoms of Coeliac Disease are wrongly identified as those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The best way to find out if gluten could be the cause of your irritable bowel (IBS) symptoms is to take a Coeliac Disease Test. The Zoom Health test for coeliac disease is straight-forward and accurate and will give you a result in only 10 minutes.
- This post was first published in 2015. Last updated: 6th October 2020.
- Main Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash
- Second Photo by Danilo Ćalić on Unsplash