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What is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be best categorized as a group of chronic symptoms that occur within your digestive system. These symptoms can come from irritation in your stomach, large intestine, or other parts of your digestive tract.
IBS symptoms usually occur when you consume certain foods, incur stress, or other life issues. IBS is a condition that needs to be managed long term.
What are the Symptoms of IBS?
There are several symptoms of IBS that can vary greatly from person to person. Ultimately, it depends on how your body responds to the food you eat or stress.
The symptoms of IBS include:
It is important to contact your doctor if you have blood in your stool, unexplained vomiting, or persistent stomach pain that spreads to your back. Severe symptoms could indicate a more serious condition, such as colon cancer. Contact a gastroenterologist today if you have any combination of the above symptoms.
What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Sometimes IBS is referred to as the brain-gut disorder. The brain controls and regulates the functionality of the digestive system. In theory, that regulation is interrupted or impaired which causes your digestive system to behave abnormally. The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is still unknown. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax as they move food from a person’s stomach through the intestinal tract to the rectum. People with IBS appear to have a disturbance in the interaction between the brain, the autonomic nervous system, and the musculature of the gut, resulting in too much or too little motility.
The main triggers of IBS are:
- Foods high in fat
- Spicy foods
- Alcoholic drinks
- Caffeinated drinks
- Hormones – women are much more likely to have IBS, and that symptoms are worse around menstrual periods
What are the Treatments for IBS?
There are several lifestyle changes that you can make to help prevent and address the symptoms of IBS. Some of those lifestyle changes include:
- Stay hydrated
- Exercise Regularly
- Eat food high in fiber
- Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms
- Get plenty of sleep
You can also take some medications to help treat symptoms and potentially treat some of the underlying issues associated with IBS. Some of those medications include:
- Anticholinergic medications
- Fiber supplements
- Anti-diarrheal medications
- Pain management medication
- Anti-nausea medication
Clinical trials and research are constantly being conducted in order to discover better treatments and solutions for irritable bowel syndrome. It is also a good idea to keep a diary of your symptoms, diet, and stress level to help you understand what triggers symptoms for you.