Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is the irritating digestive dysfunction that keeps people from enjoying the best thing in life: food. Fact, or no? Here’s what you should know about IBS, and how to identify if you have it.

The Facts

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS, is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder. It can be sometimes confused with its cousin; the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a more serious condition, resulting in an inflamed digestive tract. 3 types of IBS can occur in individuals: the kind that constipates you, known as IBS-C, the kind that gives you the runs known as IBS-D and the final type which is a combination of both worlds, known as IBS-M. Although belonging to different categories of affliction on the human body, these three types of IBS have similar symptoms, such as abdominal cramping and (or) pain, bloating after a meal, gassiness and out of the ordinary bowel habits. While a particular cause has yet to be discovered for IBS, experts suggest that more than a few factors can be responsible for this including irregular muscle contractions and spasmodic nerve glitches. New findings also suggest that IBS can develop when parts of the small intestine become infested with unhealthy bacteria. The disease affects women more than men.

Most doctors diagnose IBS as the last option, after ruling out a number of other diseases that can explain irregular bowel syndromes. While there is a range of medicinal treatments for this disease, home remedies can go a long way in helping to tame the disease. Some of these remedies include avoiding foods that can cause diarrhoea, bloating and gas. Some of the main culprits include cruciferous vegetables and legumes. Another way to deal with this is to include additional fibre in the diet, drinking more water and eating smaller meals. Some triggers of this disease include spicy or oily foods, which can be easily avoided.

IBS is not contagious, cancerous or hereditary. The symptoms set in when one is about 35 years old. IBS can occur in children as well, though the chances for this are about 5% to 20%. Symptoms of IBS tend to increase during periods of stress, though this has not been proven.

Current Cures for IBS

Antibiotics: Xifaxan, an antibiotic used to treat IBS-D primarily, can provide immediate relief by eliminating the bad bacteria in the small intestine. This is normally prescribed for a course of two weeks and can prevent IBS for anywhere from 2-weeks up to a few years. As this drug isn’t absorbed by the body, it stays in the gut as it works and also reduces the risk of harmful side-effects at the same time. However, due to the chronic nature of IBS, the symptoms tend to recur when the treatment is absent.

Antidepressants: The nature of antidepressants is to alter the way your brain interprets pain signals, which is something that works for this disease. Antidepressants can help calm overactive nerves, ease pain, constipation, diarrhoea and bloating. However, antidepressants are not without side effects. Serotonin and reuptake inhibitors (such as fluoxetine and sertraline) tend to be more suited for IBS-C, while tricyclic antidepressants suite IBS-D better.

Probiotics: This is where your love for a probiotic drink comes into play. Filling the gut with good bacteria can keep the bad bacteria from developing. Unlike antidepressants, probiotics work for people with any type of IBS. This also means that you can have more than one of the delicious probiotic drink a day!

Anti-stress activity: Stress has been linked to IBS in many ways. Heck, stress is also one of the primary contributors to belly-fat, besides alcohol and carbonated drinks. Calming practices such as yoga and meditation can improve the way your body responds to stress, thus reducing the susceptibility to IBS. 

So, do you think you have IBS? It can be a common disease, and absolutely nothing to shy away from. With the various types of food available in the market, we are sure to put into our system one thing or another that could harm our bodies. Check to see if you have the symptoms, and get a year’s supply of Yakult!

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