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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common ailments of the bowel (intestines) and affects an estimated 15% of persons in the US. The term, irritable bowel, is not a particularly good one since it implies that the bowel is responding irritably to normal stimuli, and this may or may not be the case. The several names for IBS, including spastic colon, spastic colitis, and mucous colitis, attest to the difficulty of getting a descriptive handle on the ailment. Moreover, each of the other names is itself as problematic as the term IBS.


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Irritable bowel syndrome is a frequently diagnosed condition in this country. Approximately 10 to 20% of people have this condition. Women account for almost 70% of this group. This condition causes explosive diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain as well as other symptoms. There is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome so one of the best and easiest ways to treat this condition is through the irritable bowel syndrome diet.

One symptom of bowel dysfunction is constipation. Constipation is the irregular or the incomplete emptying of the bowel. In these days of diet and nutritional awareness, most people would probably increase their fibre intake to remedy a sluggish bowel. Most people are aware that wholemeal bread contains more fibre than white bread. This type of fibre is called insoluble fibre. Whilst reducing the effects of constipation, it is thought that insoluble fibre may irritate the intestinal lining. With this in mind, it may be worth balancing your consumption of bread with eating grains e.g. Porridge oats, which are classified as soluble fibre.

What is IBS with constipation treated with? There are many treatment options for IBS symptoms when constipation is present. An increase in dietary fiber and water are usually the first recommendations. If IBS symptoms are not relieved, doctors may recommend laxatives, but only for short-term use. A botanical supplement containing aloe is often recommended, because it is gentler than stimulant laxatives and is not habit-forming. Diet and lifestyle changes are often recommended, as is stress management, if stress is a problem. Alternative therapies such as hypnosis and chiropractic have been effective for relieving IBS symptoms in some people. Anti-depressants are sometimes prescribed because they block pain and may relax stomach muscles. Zelnorm, a prescription medication for women who have IBS symptoms with constipation, is sometimes prescribed, but it can have serious side-effects.

Despite the shortcomings of the term, functional, the concept of a functional abnormality is useful for approaching many of the symptoms originating from the muscular organs of the gastrointestinal tract. This concept applies particularly to those symptoms for which there are no associated abnormalities that can be seen with the naked eye or the microscope.

It can either cause the colon to freeze up causing constipation, or cause it to contract spastically which will cause diarrhoea. Other areas you may want to cut back on are coffee, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and caffeine as they are all either stimulants or irritants, and therefore, they cause your GI tract to either be stimulated or irritated which can cause an attack. The irritable bowel syndrome diet concentrates on eating healthy foods to reduce your symptoms as there is no cure for IBS.

The study of functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract often is categorized by the organ of involvement. Thus, there are functional disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, and gallbladder. The amount of research on functional disorders has been focused mostly on the esophagus and stomach (such as dyspepsia), perhaps because these organs are easiest to reach and study. Research into functional disorders affecting the small intestine and colon (for example, IBS) is more difficult to conduct and there is less agreement among the research studies. This probably is a reflection of the complexity of the activities of the small intestine and colon and the difficulty in studying these activities. Functional diseases of the gallbladder, like those of the small intestine and colon, also are more difficult to study.

Occasionally, diseases that are thought to be functional are ultimately found to be associated with abnormalities that can be seen. Then, the disease moves out of the functional category. An example of this would be Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach. Many patients with mild upper intestinal symptoms who were thought to have abnormal function of the stomach or intestines have been found to have an infection of the stomach with Helicobacter pylori. This infection can be diagnosed by seeing the bacterium and the inflammation (gastritis) it causes under the microscope. When the patients are treated with antibiotics, the Helicobacter, gastritis, and symptoms disappear. Thus, recognition of Helicobacter pylori infection removed some patients' diseases from the functional category.

All in all, the irritable bowel syndrome diet is about eating healthy. If you make the effort to stay away from "trigger foods" and to eat small portioned, healthy, and low fat meals then hopefully there will be a decrease in your symptoms. This does not mean you have to stay away from restaurants or eating what you want to follow the irritable bowel syndrome diet it just means you need to make smarter choices to keep from having as many attacks. It is up to you and your stomach!

Some physicians suggest adding fiber to your irritable bowel syndrome diet to reduce symptoms. Fiber such as apples, peaches, raw broccoli and carrots, cabbage, and peas as well as kidney and lima beans and whole-grain breads and cereals will round out your diet. Eat the fiber first when your stomach is empty to help reduce the symptoms. You may be thinking that there is no way you can follow the irritable bowel syndrome diet but once you learn what you can and cannot eat then you will be able to reduce your symptoms and learn your "triggers."

If you eat food with a high water content e.g. fruit and vegetables then this will add to your daily water intake as will all foods to some degree. There seems to be a popular school of thought of not to drink water with your meal as it may hamper the digestion process. So you could either drink water before your meal or after your meal. Take care not to overdo the water consumption, spread it out over the day. Drinking too much water in a short space of time is not good for the body; remember you also need to replace salts as well during the day.

Patsy Hamilton has more than twenty years experience as a healthcare professional and currently writes informational articles for the Digestive Disorders Guide. Read more at http://www.digestive-disorders-guide.com.

The irritable bowel syndrome diet helps to alleviate the symptoms of IBS. It may not completely cure the condition but it will space the attacks out so they are not as frequent. One of the main things that need to be removed from your diet as much as possible is high fat foods. Fat causes a violent reaction in the colon which can cause either constipation or violent diarrhoea.

What is IBS with diarrhea? This is when IBS symptoms include loose, watery stools, possible with mucus present and going more often than usual.

IBS is best described as a functional disease. The concept of functional disease is particularly useful when discussing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The concept applies to the muscular organs of the gastrointestinal tract; the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, gallbladder, and colon. What is meant by the term, functional, is that both the muscles of the organs or the nerves that control the organs are not working normally, and, as a result, the organs do not function normally. The nerves that control the organs include not only the nerves that lie within the muscles of the organs but also the nerves of the spinal cord and brain.

Another approach to preventing constipation is to drink more water. The figures say that we ought to drink about 8 glasses. This equates to a minimum of 2 litres, if you not doing any exercise. If you are on an exercise programme then you will need to increase your intake of water to more than 2 litres. Notice that this is an intake of water rather than fluids. So caffeine and alcohol intake has to be monitored as they are both diuretics i.e. they force water out of the body.

The distinction between functional disease and non-functional disease may, in fact, be blurry. Thus, even functional diseases probably have associated biochemical or molecular abnormalities that ultimately will be able to be measured. For example, functional diseases of the stomach and intestines may be shown ultimately to be caused by reduced levels of normal chemicals within the gastrointestinal organs, the spinal cord, or the brain. Should a disease that is demonstrated to be due to a reduced chemical still be considered a functional disease? I think not. In this theoretical situation, we can't see the abnormality with the naked eye or the microscope, but we can measure it. If we can measure an associated or causative abnormality, the disease probably should no longer be considered functional.

 
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There are supplements that can be taken to restore bowel movement to a more regular cycle. Ispaghula or Psyllium Husks are bulking agents that surround the stool making them softer and more able to pass through the intestine. Ispaghula or Psyllium Husk are both available in powder form. Psyllium Husk is more likely to be available without any artificial sweeteners whereas in my experience I've only ever taken Ispaghula Husk with Aspartame. Psyllium Husk in particular, because it is not sweet, is not the nicest tasting substance.

What is IBS? IBS is irritable bowel syndrome. IBS symptoms typically include abdominal pain which is relieved by a bowel movement. There may be excessive gas and bloating. Changes in frequency and appearance of stools are also IBS symptoms. IBS symptoms may include constipation and/or diarrhea.

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by a group of symptoms in which abdominal pain or discomfort is associated with a change in bowel pattern, such as loose or more frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

One thing to point out is to avoid becoming dependent on laxatives. They may offer short term relief from constipation, but the theory is that in the longer term you're encouraging your bowel to become lazy. I was talking to my Medical Doctor this week about laxatives and she said that the over the counter medicines can be aggressive on the digestive whereas some of the prescription laxatives may be milder. As ever what affects one person in one way may not affect another in the same way.

The irritable bowel syndrome diet also suggests eating either small, frequent meals, or eating smaller portions of your three meals. Large, fat filled meals only serve to irritate your stomach and cause stomach pain, diarrhoea or constipation. Healthy and conscientious eating should be your main goal. Fruits, vegetables, lean meat and whole grain breads will help your stomach to stay on a balanced plane so that you will not have as many flare-ups.

What is IBS caused by? The cause of IBS is not known. It is not believed to lead to more serious conditions, does not appear to increase the risk for colon cancer, but the symptoms are similar to those of inflammatory bowel diseases and should be evaluated by a physician. Stress is not believed to be a cause, but it does tend to worsen IBS symptoms. IBS symptoms are more common in women than men, possibly indicating that monthly hormonal changes are a cause, but this has not been proven. For more information about IBS and other digestive problems, visit www.digestive-disorders-guide.com.

Some gastrointestinal diseases can be seen and diagnosed with the naked eye, such as ulcers of the stomach. Thus, ulcers can be seen at surgery, on x-rays, and at endoscopies. Other diseases cannot be seen with the naked eye but can be seen and diagnosed with the microscope. For example, celiac disease and collagenous colitis are diagnosed by microscopic examination of biopsies of the small bowel and colon, respectively. In contrast, gastrointestinal functional diseases cannot be seen with the naked eye or with the microscope. In some instances, the abnormal function can be demonstrated by tests, for example, gastric emptying studies or antro-duodenal motility studies. However, these tests often are complex, are not widely available, and do not reliably detect the functional abnormalities. Accordingly, by default, functional gastrointestinal diseases are those involving the abnormal function of gastrointestinal organs in which abnormalities cannot be seen in the organs with either the naked eye or the microscope.

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What is IBS with constipation? Doctors make this diagnosis when IBS symptoms include constipation or when a person has fewer bowel movements than what they are accustomed to. The stool may be hard or difficult to pass.

Treatment options are available to manage IBS???whether symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe.

For more information visit: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment

While IBS is a major functional disease, it is important to mention a second major functional disease referred to as dyspepsia, or functional dyspepsia. The symptoms of dyspepsia are thought to originate from the upper gastrointestinal tract; the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine. The symptoms include upper abdominal discomfort, bloating (the subjective sense of abdominal fullness without objective distension), or objective distension (swelling, or enlargement). The symptoms may or may not be related to meals. There may be nausea with or without vomiting and early satiety (a sense of fullness after eating only a small amount of food).

Most individuals are surprised to learn they are not alone with symptoms of IBS. In fact, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects approximately 10-20% of the general population. It is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists (doctors who specialize in medical treatment of disorders of the stomach and intestines) and one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.

Irritable bowel syndrome is understood as a multi-faceted disorder. In people with IBS, symptoms result from what appears to be a disturbance in the interaction between the gut or intestines, the brain, and the autonomic nervous system that alters regulation of bowel motility (motor function) or sensory function.

Sometimes irritable bowel syndrome is referred to as spastic colon, mucous colitis, spastic colitis, nervous stomach, or irritable colon. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is generally classified as a "functional" disorder. A functional disorder refers to a disorder or disease where the primary abnormality is an altered physiological function (the way the body works), rather than an identifiable structural or biochemical cause. It characterizes a disorder that generally can not be diagnosed in a traditional way; that is, as an inflammatory, infectious, or structural abnormality that can be seen by commonly used examination, x-ray, or blood test.

What is IBS with diarrhea treated with? Treatment options for IBS symptoms when diarrhea is present are as numerous as those for constipation. Doctors may suggest over the counter anti-diarrhea products like Kaopectate. Medications to reduce muscle spasms may be prescribed. Herbal remedies are available. Hypnosis was shown to be effective in one study. Stress management, anti-depressants, dietary and lifestyle changes may all be effective for relieving IBS symptoms with diarrhea.

If your bowel symptoms persist, you must see your medical doctor. Do not self diagnose as your pain may be a sign something more dangerous.


 
 
     
 
 





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