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Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Your Health

Posted On: January 28, 2020

Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Your Health

Irritable Bowel Syndrome abbreviated IBS is a chronic condition that usually affects the large intestine. This condition is quite common and affects an estimated 25 to 45 million Americans. The condition is equally more common in women than in men, and mostly affects people between their late teens and the early 40s. IBS can actually be described as a mix of belly discomfort/pain and problems with bowel habits. Unlike other conditions that often affect the belly and intestines, IBS is not life-threatening and besides, it does not increase the risks of developing other life-threatening belly conditions such as colon cancer, crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. However, this condition can result in long lasting problems that could change how you go about your normal activities. For instance, if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you are likely to miss work or school whenever the symptoms flare up.

What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Doctors are yet to discover the exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, even though there are indications that certain factors play a role and increases the risk of developing the condition. Some of such factors nevertheless include abnormal muscle contractions of the intestine, abnormalities of the nerves in the digestive system, and inflammations of the intestines. Besides, IBS could also develop after a bout of diarrhea or gastroenteritis caused by either a bacteria or a virus. In addition, this chronic condition is also usually associated with a surplus of bacteria in the stomach. Well, because Irritable Bowel Syndrome happens in more women than men, there have been insinuations that hormones also play a factor. But so far, studies have not been conducted to assert this claim. Another theory has also suggested that Irritable Bowel Syndrome may also be associated with certain chemicals made by the body, notably serotonin and gastrin, which controls the signal of nerves between the brain and the digestive system. That said, some researchers are currently studying whether or not the presence of certain bacteria in the bowel can also result in Irritable Bowel syndrome.

The signs and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome typically experience certain signs and symptoms, including constipation, diarrhea, excessive gas and bloating, harder or loose stools than normal, belly pains/cramps that usually get worse after meals, but feel better after a bowel movement, as well as mucus in stool.  Some people with the condition are also reported to have bellies that stick out, whereas others may also experience urinary symptoms or sexual problems. It is also worthy to note that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome could sometimes experience moments of severe symptoms, while other times, these symptoms could improve or even disappear completely. It is therefore advisable to always see your doctor when you have a change in bowel movement or when you start experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of IBS.

Types of Irritable Bowel Syndromes

Irritable Bowel Syndrome has been categorized under four different types, based on certain unique characteristics. When IBS is characterized by constipation, it’s known as IBS-C, but when it’s characterized by diarrhea, it’s known as IBS-D. However, when Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by an alternating pattern of diarrhea and constipation, it’s called IBS-M. Meanwhile, when it doesn’t fit into any of these categories easily, it’s termed unsub typed IBS, or IBS-U.

What are the triggers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Although researchers are still to know the exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the condition has certain well-known triggers. For instance, certain foods trigger the condition and cause a flair in the symptoms. The truth is that the role of food allergy or intolerance in Irritable Bowel Syndrome isn’t yet fully understood, even though there are indications that certain foods and drinks such as dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beans, citrus fruits as well as carbonated drinks triggers the condition.

Similarly, there are indications that stress also plays a contributing factor to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This assertion, therefore explains why most people with the condition experience more severe or regular symptoms during periods of increased stress. That said, it should be noted that even though stress could aggravate the condition, it’s not the cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Another well-known trigger of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is hormones. This assertion can nevertheless be backed by the fact that women are twice more likely to have IBS than their male counterparts. Besides, many women with IBS always find out that the severity of their symptoms typically worsens around their menstrual periods.

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The Risk factors of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Although anyone could have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, certain factors may increase your risks of developing the condition. For instance, just being a female is a risk factor as women are twice more likely to develop the condition than men. There are also indications that estrogen therapy either before or after menopause could increase the risk of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in women.

Another risk factor of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is being young. This assertion can be explained by the fact that IBS is more common in people under the age of 50 as opposed to older adults. In addition, having a family history of IBS could also boost your chances of developing the condition. This is so because genes could play a role, in the same way as other shared factors in the family environment. Of course, a combination of genes and the environment could also increase the risks of developing it.  Above all, mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression as well as other mental health issues are highly associated with IBS. People with a history of various types of abuse, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse also have a risk of developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

How is Irritable Bowel Movement diagnosed and treated?

The process of diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome is quite complicated. The reason is that there isn’t any specific lab test to diagnose the condition. Thus, your doctor may just need to talk to you, to ascertain if your symptoms are a match to the definition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, your doctor may go further to run certain blood and stool tests, as well as colonoscopy and upper endoscopy to rule out other conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, infections, enzyme deficiencies, food allergies or intolerance or the side effects of certain medications such as iron, antacids and high blood pressure medications.

Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome can also be tricky as no single treatment works for everyone. However, once you are diagnosed, your doctor will work with you to find out the right treatment plan that can help you manage your symptoms. Your doctor will easily find out the right treatment plan for you after he must have ascertained the things that trigger the condition for you. That said, the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is usually lifestyle changes and medications. The lifestyle changes that can improve IBS nevertheless include quitting smoking, avoiding caffeine, limiting the intake of dairy products like milk and cheese, drinking a lot of water, adding more fiber into your diet, as well as doing more exercises. Similarly, certain types of medications, including bulking agents like psyllium, antibiotics such as rifaximin, antidepressants, and probiotics, etc. can also be used to treat the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Preventing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Since the exact cause of Irritable Bowel isn’t yet known, it is hard to prevent one’s self from developing it. However, it’s possible to prevent or ease the symptom if you are already suffering from it. One of the best habits that can ease the symptoms of IBS is to always avoid stress as much as possible. If you are facing a hard time dealing with stress, you can meet a professional to counsel you on how to modify or change your responses to stress. Some studies have actually suggested that a psychotherapist can help you maintain a significant and long lasting reduction in the severity of the symptoms of IBS. Besides, indulging in progressive exercises can equally keep you relaxed, thereby alleviating the symptoms of IBS. Moreover, just like with progressive exercises, mindfulness training can also help you stay stress-free since it makes you focus on being in the present and letting go of other worries and distractions.

Conclusion

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, (IBS) is a long term, yet common condition that affects the large intestine. This condition is typically characterized by bouts of diarrhea, constipation, mucus in stool, excessive gas and bloating as well as stomach cramps and pain. The condition which is more common in women than in men and equally associated with a poor quality of life and mood disorders is not life threatening even though it requires a lot of lifestyle changes to ease the symptoms. Of course, certain medications can also ease the symptoms of IBS.  However, this condition rarely results in complications, even though chronic constipation and diarrhea can easily result in hemorrhoids in sufferers of IBS.

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