April is IBS awareness month. So, for the 1st article of the month, we’ll look back on what IBS is, what we can do to lessen the intensity of the symptoms, and to see if natural remedies can help us treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
According to the data provided by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFGD), IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects 25 to 45 million people in the United States. It affects about 10-15% of the population worldwide.
Among patients suffering from IBS, about 40% suffer from Mild symptoms, 35% moderate symptoms and 25% suffer from severe symptoms.
It is now considered to be a dominant health issue for women since around 65% of people who suffer from IBS are females.
What is IBS?
IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects about 1 out of 8 Americans today. Common signs and symptoms include moderate to severe abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, or constipation.
It can be misdiagnosed as the symptoms are very similar to gastrointestinal issues. While Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be treated it can’t be cured, it’s a chronic condition that patients have to learn how to best manage it over time. Changes in diet and lifestyle can help you control the symptoms, however, severe symptoms need medical intervention.
What causes IBS?
The cause is still unknown and researchers keep conducting studies to understand it better, but there are factors that play an important role in causing Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Muscle contractions: The intestines contract every time food passes the digestive tract. Weak contractions can cause constipation as food passes slowly. Flatulations can be caused by strong contractions. Changes in the normal intestinal contractions can cause IBS.
Increased immune-system cells: Increased immune-system cells in the intestines can be attributed to pain and diarrhea. Patients with IBS can be seen with high immune-system cells in the intestines.
Bacterial overgrowth: IBS can be seen in patients with a high bacterial count in the intestines.
Changes in the gut flora: The gut contains a lot of “Microflora” or good bacteria that fight the bad bacteria we may ingest. Studies have shown that some IBS patients have a slightly different microflora composition than non-IBS people.
Stress: People known to have IBS can have more severe attacks during periods of increased stress.
Hormones: It has been known that more women suffer from IBS than males. Most IBS attacks occur during the menstrual period.
Food: IBS patients can have more severe symptoms when they eat or drink certain food products. Beans, citrus fruits, dairy products, milk, and carbonated drinks can be triggers.
At this moment, there is no known cure for IBS. Being a chronic condition, the best thing we can do is manage it. A visit to your gastroenterologist may give you a lot of information on how to alleviate the symptoms. Doctors can prescribe you with Anticholinergic medications, Anti-diarrheal medications, Laxatives, Pain medications, and other medicines that can help fight the symptoms of IBS. A lifestyle change will be one of the top pieces of advice your doctor can give you but there are also different home remedies that we can try to help manage IBS.
Deep Breathing. As people have known to have severe IBS symptoms during stressful situations, practicing deep breathing exercises can help lessen our stress levels and help keep the symptoms at a minimum.
Peppermint Oil. A study in 2014 found that Peppermint oil can help improve symptoms of IBS like bloating and gas. It also helps with lessening abdominal pain.
Probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that can help maintain a good gut flora. It can help correct any abnormalities in our gut that can cause IBS symptoms. Probiotics can also help reduce pain caused by IBS.
Exercise Regularly. Exercising will not just help you get the body you’re hoping for, it can also help you fight stress and anxiety.
High-fiber diet. Eating food with high-fiber content can help you not stress out your intestines. Fibrous food will help flush out bad things out of your digestive system.
Avoiding certain foods. Avoiding carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages, high-gluten food, and some carbohydrates can help you not trigger IBS symptoms.
All information contained in this article is for purely informational and educational purposes only and it is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a physician or a qualified healthcare provider for any questions regarding your health and well-being.