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IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome

May 26th, 2012 | Posted in 3 Various Specific Problems

Constipation and/or diarrhoea is often associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Although around 20% of the adult population are estimated to suffer from IBS, most people showing symptoms may be unaware that the condition exists.

IBS is a disorder of the gut in which the sufferer experiences abdominal pain, bloating or discomfort and a change in bowel habit, without an obvious cause. IBS is called a syndrome because it involves different signs and symptoms which are all interrelated. IBS is a painful and often distressing condition which can seriously impact the sufferer’s quality of life. It is thought that women are twice as likely as men to suffer from IBS and it is also more common in emotional and stressed people.

The severity of symptoms will vary from person to person, but the main symptoms are:

  • abdominal pain, possibly made worse with certain foods, often felt on the left hand side
  • bloating/abdominal swelling due to a build up of gas which causes pain and discomfort
  • constipation and/or diarrhoea (one of the commonest symptoms of IBS is the sudden onset of an urge to go)

Sufferers can also experience the following symptoms:

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation
  • nausea
  • needing to pass urine more often
  • pain on intercourse (women only)

IBS should always be diagnosed by a qualified medical practitioner, since the symptoms of IBS can resemble those of other bowel diseases. IBS can start at any time, but frequently begins in early adulthood and comes and goes over the course of many years. This fact alone is an important diagnostic pointer, but you should always seek further advice if your symptoms change. If you are concerned about your health, consult your doctor.

What causes it?

Muscles in the bowel wall normally contract in a regular rhythm to move food through the digestive system. IBS symptoms occur when this rhythm is disrupted for some reason, such as:

  • the stress of a modern lifestyle. It can be aggravated by over-worry, over-thinking, frustration, aggravation, anger and irritability.
  • lack of dietary fibre and excess of fatty food
  • change in bowel routine as a result of physical or emotional triggers
  • intolerance to certain foods

What can I do?

While there is no outright ‘cure’ for IBS, there are various steps you can take to try and alleviate the symptoms:

Acupuncture can help to restore balance to your system.

  • it helps to regulate the intestines;
  • it helps to relieve indigestion and ‘rumbling’ tummies (borborygmous);
  • it helps to relieve the anxiety caused by this problem;
  • it relieves pain;
  • it also works to relax the body and the mind.

Try and change your DIET Go for foods that are:

  • low in fat,
  • low in sugar,
  • eat less fried or greasy food
  • high in the right sort of fibre—a balance of cereals, wholemeal bread, (bran can actually make the symptoms of IBS worse)
  • eat more fruit and vegetables
  • cut down on caffeine and fizzy drinks, instead drink plenty of water or fruit juice.

Try to RELAX Over-thinking and over-worrying can contribute to worsening the symptoms of IBS. Many IBS sufferers find relaxation a big help. Tried and tested techniques include:

  • body awareness – concentrate on different parts of your body in turn
  • tensing and relaxing each part of your body in turn
  • breathing exercises
  • imagery exercises – visualising yourself in a calm place
  • listening to relaxing music