What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
A health article about Irritable Bowel Syndrome fromYour Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies
A lot of people have digestive problems, constipation, diarrohea. It can be embarrassing and difficult to talk about. They eat and find discomfort, stomach pain, maybe bloating, gas, and a general feeling of being unwell.
When they talk with their doctor they have nothing specifically wrong with them. Tests show it is not colitis, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. Once all the specific, diagnosable bowel complaints have been ruled out then it is then almost by default that the diagnosis turns to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), sometimes referred to as Spastic colon, is a condition where a person experiences extreme bowel habits (either constipation, diarrhoea or both).
In addition to constipation and diarrhoea, other symptoms for suffers of IBS include abdominal pain and bloating.
It is a serious problem in general society with figures in Northern American indicating that one in five people have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which makes it one of the most common disorders diagnosed today. Irritable bowel syndrome usually hits the
person around age 20 and is more common among women than in men.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptons of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include:
• Chronic and frequent diarrhea, usually accompanied by pain
• Chronic and frequent constipation, usually accompanied by pain
• Abdominal pain or tenderness
o Following meals
o Relieved by bowel movement
• Abdominal fullness , gas, bloating
• Abdominal distention
• Nausea and vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Emotional distress
What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
No one really knows why certain people develop IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can occur at any age, but often begins in adolescence or early adulthood. It is more common in women. Risk factors may include a low-fiber diet, emotional stress, use of laxatives, having had infectious diarrhea, or other temporary bowel inflammation.
People who have contracted other illnesses (such as a fever, vomiting and acute diarrhoea) may be susceptible to contracting IBS. Diet and stress may also trigger IBS in some patients.
Researchers believe that people with Irritable bowel syndrome have sensitive colons that react to aggravating foods and certain emotional conditions, most commonly, to stress, conflict, or upsets.
Antidepressants are often used to relieve stress-related irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Some doctors link colon sensitivity to weak immune systems.
With the cause of irritable bowel syndrome so unclear the diagnoses of it becomes difficult.
The starting point of the diagnosis is a detailed history or interview and a physical examination. Diagnosis of IBS involves identifying certain symptoms typical of the disorder, and excluding other medical conditions that may have a similar clinical presentation. The symptom-based Rome diagnostic criteria for IBS emphasize a “positive diagnosis” rather than exhaustive tests to exclude other diseases.
There are no physical findings or tests that confirm the diagnosis of IBS. Laboratory blood and stool tests, x-rays, and endoscopic procedures (such as colonoscopy) are used not to make the diagnosis, but to rule out other diseases of the bowel, which can present with similar symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome is extremely common, but only a small number of people seek treatment.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome often defeats medical intervention as there is no clear cut solution to it. American Dept of Health figures show that on their figures around 10% of people with the problem recover fully each year so that for most people they expect that eventually they will recover. This is not true in all cases however.
Treatment Options for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
An occasional bout with abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation is an experience nearly everyone has in common. People may view these symptoms as normal, even when they frequently occur. However, chronic and recurring symptoms are not normal. They may signal irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – and are often treatable.
Dr Jamie McManus, M.D., F.A.A.F.P. a leading nutritional expert speaks very strongly that lack of adequate water intake is one of the major underling causative factors for constipation in our modern world. She believes that in many cases this is a contributory factor for IBS sufferers with predominately constipation problems.
If you think this may be part of your own problem then increasing intake of clean water may be beneficial but, as with all things related to irritable bowel syndrome, do not make sudden changes to your diet, introduce the changes gradually over a few days or even a few weeks.
Other medical opinion advises:
Mild symptoms affect about 70% of people with IBS. Symptoms occur infrequently, and occasionally interfere with normal daily functioning. A primary care provider, rather than a specialist, is generally consulted.
Moderate symptoms affect about 25% of people with IBS. Their symptoms occur more intensely and frequently, more often interfere with daily activities, and prompt awareness of what factors bring on symptoms.
Severe symptoms affect about 5% of people with IBS. Their symptoms are frequent, intense, and chronically interfere with daily functioning.
All treatment of IBS should begin with education about the nature of the disorder:
• It is a chronic condition with intermittent symptoms
• Symptoms are variable
• Symptoms themselves are not life threatening nor an indication of something more serious
• Symptoms can often be managed with changes to a healthier lifestyle, or dietary changes such as modifying consumption of foods that seem to influence symptoms
For moderate symptoms, in addition to the above, consider...
• Use of a Personal Daily Diary, to help identify factors that aggravate, bring on, or "trigger" symptoms
• Investigating and learning stress management, hypnosis, biofeedback,relaxation, or pain management techniques
• Consulting with your physician about the use of drug therapy, which will depend on your predominant symptom. Use of medications requires a careful evaluation of the nature and severity of symptoms, exclusion of other disorders, and a determination of which medication is best suited to you
If symptoms are severe, in addition to all of the above, consider...
• Investigating the use and benefits offered by cognitive-behavioral therapy
• Drug therapy, in consultation with your physician, for treatment of pain (e.g., low-dose antidepressants, which act as pain relievers.)
• Seeking referral to a pain treatment center
For individuals with IBS, effective diagnosis and treatment starts with the recognition of the validity of symptom complaints. Working in partnership with a physician or care-provider can help achieve the best possible results. Once a diagnosis is made it is helpful to develop a treatment plan and an outcome goal in an effort to control symptoms. Each individual's symptoms may vary and respond differently to treatment.
Self Care strategies for Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
No cure has been found yet for irritable bowel syndrome. Your
doctor might prescribe fiber supplements or occasional
laxatives to ease constipation, as well as medicines to help
with diarrhea, or drugs that calm down abdominal pain, but
careful eating is the most important step in reducing irritable
bowel syndrome symptoms.
Consistently people find good results with the use of Aloe vera juice and acidophilus and well as a solid nutrition supplementation program. We will talk about these in the Vitamin & Nutrient Associations section below
Many irritable bowel syndrome sufferers
can successfully control their symptoms with simple diet
changes. Quite often, when you increase your fiber intake,
Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms are relieved.
Eating more fiber can be easier than you think. Whole grain
breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables are both delicious
and rich in healthy fiber. Fiber-rich diet results in regular
bowel movements and better colon cleansing. However, fiber will
make you feel worse if you have pain or diarrhea because
high-fiber diets may cause some discomfort at first, but do not
panic. You simply need a few days to adjust to the new diet.
Positive changes take time if your colon is more irritated than
When starting fiber-rich diet, stick to plain foods like white
rice, plain unflavored oatmeal, rice cereal, pasta, peeled
potatoes. Incorporate insoluble fibers carefully by blending
fresh fruit with soy or rice milk making delicious and
nutritious cocktails. You can always add vegetables into soups
or pasta sauces. Grilled, not fried, fish filet or low-fat
chicken breast goes well with your pasta or rice. Eat fruits
and vegetables as much as possible. To increase fiber intake,
drink psyllium or flaxseed dissolved in water, such as Citrucel
In general, try eating foods that are low in fat and high in
carbohydrates, such as whole grain pasta and breads,
unprocessed (not quick-cooking) rice and cereals. Avoid food
that is high in fat, insoluble fiber, caffeine, coffee,
carbonation, or alcohol.
When relieving irritable bowel syndrome symptoms through
dietary means, you should keep your water intake at a maximum.
Water prevents dehydration, especially if you have diarrhea.
Drink plain water. Carbonated drinks, such as sodas, may result
in increased levels of gas and cause pain in the abdomen.
Irritable bowel syndrome may require you to change the way you
eat your meals. Big portions of food can cause cramping and
diarrhea. To prevent these occurrences eat smaller portions and
plan your meals so that you eat more frequently. Less food
requires less effort from your bowels, so the message is to eat
little and often.
When following these simple diet guidelines people can start
living a normal, happy, outgoing life. Diarrhea and pain should
reduce in just a few days. Constipation, however, can take
several weeks to relieve, but it is worth persevering. Besides,
you will look and feel healthier, too!
Diet change strategies:
Vitamin & Nutrient Associations
If there is one supplement or alternative health product that will be most likely to help with IBS it is Aloe Vera Juice.
Aloe heals where it touches. If you cut or graze your hand and there is an aloe vera plant near buy you can cut the succulent leaf and rub the internal gel on the wound and the discomfort will reduce quickly and the rate of healing will normally be dramatically faster than without the use of the aloe products.
Internally it is a little more to difficult to apply aloe so you need to use a high quality Aloe Vera Juice.
A quality product will be clear to look at and pleasant smelling. If you find a cloud solution that smells and tastes poorly then you will have an extract of the full juice. This is very good for cleansing the lower bowel and is a much cheaper product but it will not deliver the same cleansing and healing properties as a juice that is extracted from just the heart of the plant.
In addition to the another product that will help to balance the irritable bowel problem is acidophilus.
These two products together will promote healing through the entire digeative tract and will, in many cases, assist in bringing irritable bowel syndrome back under control and aid in preventing “flare ups”.
Once you have a basic cleansing and healing process happening then you should look at adding in some nutrition products to heal your whole system.
If you are using a protein based meal replacement nutrition shake program with nutrition supplement tablets as a foundation for cleaning and rebuilding then you should introduce them gradually.
If you are using even high quality products like these DO NOT go onto full product use on day one. Introduce things gradually over a few days or even a few weeks.
Initially it would be best to take the amnino protein meal replacement powder just once a day.
After a few days add the supplement tablets starting with one of them taken only one time a day initially and adding the rest of the tablets progressively and then taking them twice a day and finally on to normal usage three times a day.
This whole process may take a few days, a few weeks or even a month to establish but if is removes the problems of irritable bowel syndrome from your life it is worth it.
A final note: often when people start on this program they feel very good after a short time and think they can go onto a normal diet immediately. DO NOT DO THAT. Introduce things gradually. If it takes six weeks to get onto a normal diet where you can eat anything it is a fantastic outcome. Be patient with the process.
Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your Irritable Bowel Syndrome problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.
We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.
More Resources available about Irritable Bowel Syndrome :
It is highly recommended to read the article that talks about how we absorb the nutrition from out food as IBS can be linked in with this problem: nutrition
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