Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system. IBS causes bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. These symptoms come and go intermittently and can last for days, weeks, or (in extreme cases) months. Irritable bowel syndrome is a lifetime condition. It can be quite frustrating and can end up affecting your quality of life. IBS has no cure, but medications and dietary changes can help improve the symptoms. The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown. Women are more likely to develop IBS than men — the same goes for people who are under the age of 50.
Types of IBS
There are three different types of irritable bowel syndrome. Treatment options will depend on the type of IBS you have.
IBS with Constipation (IBS-C): IBS-C comes with stomach discomfort, pain, and bloating. There are also delayed or infrequent bowel movements. With IBS-C, your stool is hard and lumpy.
IBS with Diarrhea (IBS-D): With IBS-D, there is always an urge to relieve yourself. This results in more bowel movements than usual, with loose and watery stool.
IBS with Mixed Bowel Habits (IBS-M): IBS-M has those afflicted suffering alternately from both constipation and diarrhea. More than a quarter of the stools you take will either be loose and watery or hard and lumpy.
Symptoms of IBS
Some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Bloating, where your stomach feels swollen and full
- Stomach cramping and pain that worsens after eating
- Mucus in your stool
- Bowel incontinence
- Problems controlling your pee or having more urges to pee
Diagnosis of IBS
The doctor will review your symptoms as well as family history and may perform a physical exam. In some cases, the doctor may order more tests to rule out any other health issues. The doctor will diagnose IBS if you:
- Had symptoms for at least six months
- Had them at least once a week for three months
In a majority of cases, the doctor doesn’t need tests to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. They may, however, order stool tests to check for infections and other diseases. They may also do blood tests to check for other digestive diseases, anemia, and infections.
How to Treat IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t go away. Managing the symptoms may be the only way to reduce them.
Certain lifestyle changes can help relieve the symptoms without relying on medications. Exercising, reducing your caffeine intake, and consuming smaller meals can help. At the same time, finding ways of minimizing stress can relieve the symptoms of IBS. You can also use probiotics to relieve bloating and gas.
If your symptoms don’t improve even after lifestyle changes, medication is prescribed. Some IBS drugs treat all symptoms, while others focus on specific symptoms. The doctor may prescribe different medications depending on your symptoms. Treatment includes medications to control the muscle spasms, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-constipation drugs, and antibiotics.
How to Live with IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome has no cure and most people get used to living with the symptoms. Here are some ways to make your life more comfortable if you have irritable bowel syndrome:
- Avoid sugar alternatives, like those found in diet foods, since they cause diarrhea
- Opt for oat-based foods since they relieve bloating and gas
- Avoid skipping meals
- Have a regular eating schedule where you eat at the same time daily
- When you are eating, eat slowly and chew your food well
- Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages
- Drink at least eight cups of water and fluids every day
- Stay away from sugary and carbonated beverages like soda
- Can gluten cause irritable bowel syndrome? If you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, it may cause IBS symptoms.
- How can you prevent IBS? There is no known cause of IBS, which makes it difficult to prevent. If you have IBS, the only thing you can do is take measures to relieve the symptoms.
- Is irritable bowel syndrome fatal? Irritable bowel syndrome is not usually life-threatening. However, it can be frustrating and challenging to live with the condition.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!