I have decided to write a post about IBS. I suffer from IBS and have done for 6 years. Ive had the blood tests, the scans, the other tests etc to see if it was anything else and it wasn’t; the only explanation for my symptoms is IBS.
I thought I had it under control by taking over the counter medications and anti-depressants when needed (see my post about the Gut and Brain connection).
This post was written by me and I have provided the links to the information I have taken from the internet. There are so many great websites out there so make sure you have a look! This is only a small chunk of information on IBS!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is the name doctors have given to a collection of otherwise unexplained symptoms relating to a disturbance of the colon or large intestine. IBS is a “syndrome.” The word syndrome means a group of symptoms and signs that indicate a disease or health problem.
IBS is one of the most common problems of the digestive system – about 2 in 10 people in the UK have IBS and it’s twice as common in women than men. Women might be more willing to talk to their doctors about IBS Symptoms. Men, women and children all get IBS. Hormones play a part in IBS. Many women report a worsening of symptoms during menstruation.
IBS can develop at any age, but most people have their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 35. When X-rays, blood tests, endoscopies and other diagnostic tests are carried out, the results do not reveal any obvious abnormality. For that reason IBS is often called ‘a functional disorder’ of the bowel; in other words, an disturbance in bowel function without any change in structure or obvious cause.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Most people with IBS find their symptoms an occasional nuisance but don’t need to see a doctor. However, for some people, the condition seriously affects their quality of life. If you find it difficult to cope with your symptoms, see your GP.
- Pain or discomfort in your abdomen is the most common symptom of IBS and it’s often in your lower abdomen on the left-hand side. You may also get stomach cramps. The pain may be mild or severe and may ease if you open your bowels. It can often get worse if you eat. You may feel pain at a particular time of day, often in the evening. Women often find the pain relates to their menstrual cycle.
- A change in bowel habit is another common symptom. Your faeces may vary in consistency and may alternate between constipation and diarrhoea. Alternatively, you may just pass small amounts of mucus. At times, you may feel an urgent need to open your bowels or this may feel strained. Afterwards, you may feel that your bowels haven’t been completely emptied.
- Your abdomen may feel bloated and may look swollen. This is more common in women.
These symptoms may come and go – you may not have any symptoms for months and then have a sudden flare-up.
Other symptoms you may get if you have IBS include:
- feeling sick
- muscle and joint pains
- ringing in the ears
- shortness of breath
- problems with your bladder- passing urine frequently
- problems with your sex life- pain during or after having sex, or a lack of interest in sex
A similar range of symptoms are reported by patients with other medically unexplained illnesses, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Functional Dyspepsia, suggesting they all might all be expressions of an alteration in sensitivity or irritability affecting the mind and the body.
No One Knows for Sure What Causes IBS.
At this point, no one has found one specific cause of IBS. But thanks to tireless work of countless researchers, we know a lot more about it, and what you can do to prevent symptoms of IBS.
One theory is that the intestines overreact to signals of stress or anxiety coming from the brain; the ‘nervous stomach’. Food sensitivities or food allergies can trigger an IBS attack. Finding and eliminating foods that don’t agree with you can make a dramatic difference.
Note that food sensitivities are not the same as allergies. You may not be “allergic” to a food, but it can still be a major cause of your IBS symptoms.
Your genetic make-up – you may inherit IBS
Bacterial Infections- inflammation of your bowel, for example an infection such as gastroenteritis
Over Sensitive Bowels
Extra Pain Receptors
Yeast (Candida Albicans)
The First 5 Things to Do if You Have IBS Symptoms
1. See your doctor. – You don’t want to try diagnosing yourself with IBS, only to find out you have a treatable and/or a serious condition.
2. See an allergist.
3. See a qualified dietician or nutritionist.
4. Keep a food diary and look for problem foods.
5. Avoid foods that you find trigger your IBS.
- Eat regular meals.
- Drink enough fluids but try to limit caffeinated drinks, such as tea and coffee, to a maximum of three cups a day and also limit alcoholic and fizzy drinks.
- Cut down on foods that are rich in insoluble fibre, such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain rice and cereals that contain bran when your symptoms get worse.
- Eat no more than three portions of fruit a day.
- Limit processed foods. These may contain ‘resistant starch’ that is difficult for your body to digest.
- If you have diarrhoea, cut out artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol. This is used in some sugar-free sweets, drinks and diet products.
- If you feel bloated, try eating oats, which are found in some cereals and porridge, and a tablespoon of linseeds each day.
- FODMAP for IBS- http://solvingtheibspuzzle.com/the-fodmap-diet-for-ibs.html
You may find it helpful to keep a food diary for two to four weeks to see if certain foods cause your symptoms. Always speak to your GP before changing your diet as advice may differ depending on your symptoms. If certain foods still seem to bring on your symptoms after trying this diet advice, it may help to see a dietitian.
Regular exercise is a good way to help reduce your symptoms. It helps keep your bowel movements regular and reduces stress. Aim to do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, at least five times a week.
If your symptoms are noticeably triggered by stress, try learning stress management or relaxation techniques.
If these self-help treatments don’t work, see your GP for advice. He or she can help you identify factors that may be making your IBS worse, and suggest other treatments.