Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms affect between 3 percent to 20 percent of Americans. It is more common in women than in men. Most people with IBS might have minor symptoms. Some people might have severe symptoms that interfere with their daily life.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
They are many names for IBS such as irritable colon, mucous colitis, spastic colitis, and spastic colon. IBS is a condition that is not associated with any bowel conditions and is a different condition from inflammatory bowel disease. IBS is known to cause several intestinal symptoms that occur together. The symptoms vary from person to person in terms of severity and duration. They can last a minimum of three days per month to three months maximum.
Severe symptoms can cause intestinal damage in certain cases, but it is rare. Some people might say that it increases your risk of gastrointestinal cancer but that is not true. It does however have a significant effect on your daily life.
Let us discuss a few different ways that IBS can affect your bowel habits.
The common symptoms associated with IBS include:
- Abdominal pain
People who have IBS might suffer from these symptoms. Different people have different symptoms. Diarrhea and constipation are symptoms that are uncommon to exist together in individuals. Symptoms including gas and bloating normally go away after you have a bowel movement.
Symptoms associated with IBS are not persistent.
Some people may have continuous symptoms. For most people, IBS symptoms resolve but come back after a few times.
Symptoms of IBS In Women:
For women, menstruation and IBS symptoms come around the same time. Or women tend to have more symptoms during menstruation. Women who undergo menopause might start to see fewer symptoms as to women who are still menstruating. For certain women, symptoms might increase during pregnancy.
Symptoms of IBS In Men:
Symptoms of IBS are similar to symptoms of IBS in women. They are fewer cases of men reporting symptoms of IBS and requiring treatment.
You may experience IBS pain as cramping. To differentiate between normal bowel disease and IBS you need to have at least two of the following symptoms with cramping.
- You may experience a change in the frequency of your bowel movement.
- You may experience a change in the way your stool looks.
- You may experience a relief in pain after a bowel movement.
Your doctor might diagnose you with IBS based on your symptoms. They take the necessary steps to rule out other causes that may be causing you symptoms similar to that of IBS.
Your doctor may ask you to cut out specific groups of food for a certain period or adopt a certain diet. To check if you might have any food allergies.
They might do a stool test to confirm if you are suffering from any infection.
They might run tests for anaemia and rule out celiac disease.
They might perform a colonoscopy.
Colonoscopy might only be performed if your doctor suspects that your symptoms might be caused by colitis, inflammatory bowel disease also known as Crohn’s disease, or cancer.
Diet is one of the most important things when it comes to easing the symptoms of IBS. Some people have seen significant improvement in symptoms by making dietary changes. Since IBS symptoms are different for everyone. The diet you follow should be based on your condition and symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBS. Most treatments aimed at treating IBS provide ease in symptoms. The first suggestion when minimizing IBS symptoms is lifestyle modifications. Certain home remedies are normally suggested before the use of any medication.
Home Remedies For IBS:
Lifestyle modification and certain home remedies may help to reduce the symptoms of IBS without the need for medication. Certain examples of changes that you add in your life include:
- We suggest taking part in regular physical activity.
- If you drink too much caffeine that may be causing your symptoms. This is because they stimulate the small intestine. So, we suggest cutting back on any kind of caffeinated beverage.
- Stress may be a trigger for IBS for certain people. So, decreasing the amount of stress by therapy or other stress-reducing activities.
- Eat smaller meals than normal.
- Taking probiotic. These are rich in good bacteria present in our normal flora. These bacteria help in gas and bloating.
Foods to avoid with IBS:
Understanding and managing your diet when you suffer from IBS can sometimes be challenging, but it is worth it. You need to make a diet plan according to your requirement. Initially, you start with modifying amounts or eliminating certain food. You can start with food such as fried foods, indigestible sugars, dairy, beans are said to ease symptoms of IBS. Some people have seen a decrease in their symptoms with the use of certain spices and herbs such as chamomile, peppermint, and ginger.
If lifestyle modification and different home remedies do not work for you, the last option your doctor may suggest is using medication. IBS medication produces a different effect on different people. This depends on the individual’s response to the medication. Your doctor will help you find the perfect medication for you.
Whenever you are to consider starting a new medicine. You must tell your doctor any other herbal medication or any other over-the-counter drugs you might be taking. This prevents any drug interaction that might occur. Drug interaction can sometimes lead to severe symptoms.
They are many different types of drugs available in the market to treat IBS. Certain drugs available can be used to treat all the symptoms related to IBS. Other drugs available are used to treat specific symptoms. We use drugs that control muscle spasms, these drugs include ant constipation drugs. Drugs used to ease pain include tricyclic antidepressants and antibiotics. If your main symptom with IBS is constipation your doctor may recommend you take drugs, which include lubiprostone and linaclotide. These are drugs that are recommended by the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).
What Causes IBS?
Unfortunately, doctors still do not know the exact cause that causes IBS. There are several ways to treat IBS, though. Doctors do have certain possible causes such as an overly sensitive immune system or sensitive colon. You might also have postinfectious IBS which is caused by a previous bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract. IBS can be difficult to prevent due to varied possible causes.
Physical processes that are involved in IBS can vary but normally consist of:
- The spastic or slowed movement of the colon can lead to painful cramping.
- There is a disturbance in the normal serotonin levels in your colon which can lead to affecting motility and bowel movement.
- If your intestine gets damaged due to mild celiac disease you might also face IBS symptoms.
IBS triggers are the reason for IBS symptoms for most people. So, preventing IBS triggers can prevent symptoms. Different people have different triggers but normally it can be due to certain foods, stress, and anxiety.
They are certain foods that are commonly associated with IBS symptoms for many people. They are some foods that might have a greater effect than others. You must understand which food triggers symptoms for you. You can easily keep track of it by keeping a food diary with you.
When it comes to anxiety and stress, we recommend you recognize in advance that which situations increase the level of stress and anxiety. This helps you either avoid those situations completely or develop strategies that can help you limit stress and anxiety.
IBS With Stress:
Your nervous system plays a huge role in controlling the motility and the automatic movement of your digestive system. This is why stress can affect your digestive system and can lead to it being overactive. Anybody who suffers from IBS is known to have an overly responsive colon that reacts to even slight changes in your digestive system. Stress also affects your immune system which is also believed to be associated with IBS symptoms.
IBS With Weight Loss:
IBS may lead to weight loss, but this does not occur in everyone with this condition. IBS does not normally affect weight, but weight loss can occur in individuals that are not eating enough to maintain a healthy weight to avoid symptoms. In IBS cramping usually occurs right after you eat. Your weight may also decrease if diarrhea is one of the symptoms of IBS in you. Diarrhea results in you not getting all of the nutrients from the food you are eating hence the weight loss.
IBS With Diarrhea:
IBS with diarrhea normally affects your large intestine. It is a specific type of IBS that produces common symptoms of IBS with diarrhea. It results in nausea and frequent stools. Some people that suffer from IBS with diarrhea can occasionally lose bowel control.
IBS With Constipation:
IBS with constipation is a type of IBS that normally is more common in adolescents and young adults. In IBS with constipation, the most common symptom is constipation. This results in stools that happen less often and is hard.
FODMAP DIET FOR IBS:
People who suffer from IBS need to have control over what they are eating. Especially limiting certain types of food. A low FODMAPs diet is designed to help people with IBS to prevent IBS symptoms. FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides, and polyols. To make it less complicated it is a diet in which you cut off certain types of carbohydrates such as starches, sugar, and fiber in foods.
What low FODMAPs diet means that when eaten in moderation these carbohydrates do not cause symptoms. But if you eat too much and if you are sensitive to them, you might see IBS symptoms.
FODMAPs are known to cause bloating by drawing water from the digestive tract. Eating too much of these carbohydrates results in them fermenting in your gut.
The type of carbohydrates that are FODMAPs are:
- Fructose: Honey, agave, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, fruits.
- Lactose: Dairy
- Fructans: Garlic, onions, wheat.
- Galatians: Legumes, such as soybeans, lentils, and beans
- Polyols: Sugar alcohols and fruits that have pits or seeds, such as peaches, cherries, plums, figs, avocados, or apples.
A low FODMAPs diet might not help everyone. But studies have shown that about 3 out of 4 people saw a reduction in their symptoms after starting a low FODMAPs diet. And that they felt most relief after 7 or more days in the plan.
FODMAPs are not bad. People with IBS might be sensitive to them. FODMAPs are known to promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut.
Benefits of A Low-FODMAP Diet:
Because of the benefits of low FODMAPs diet people with IBS use it to manage their symptoms:
Low FODMAPs help improves digestive symptoms.
- It reduces bloating.
- It reduces gas.
- It reduces diarrhea.
- It reduces constipation.
- Manage IBS symptoms without taking medicine.
- It improves the quality of life of individuals with IBS.
How to Follow A Low-FODMAP Diet?
Doctors or dietitians who have significant knowledge about low FODMAPs can help you adapt to It. There are three steps involved when using the FODMAP diet.
With the suggestion and guidance of an expert. You will be asked to stop eating a certain food for 6-8 weeks. This is to check if it improves symptoms.
Once that your digestive system calms down. You will be asked to bring back food one at a time. The rate you will introduce them back in your body is at one item per week or with the help of your doctor and dietitian. You will be surprised to find out that you are only sensitive to one or two FODMAP carbohydrates and not all of them.
Since different people have different IBS symptoms and IBS triggers. The goal of this method is to determine which FODMAP carbohydrates might be causing digestive problems. This helps you create a diet plan that fulfills your nutritional needs but only consists of FODMAPs you can handle.
Some Final Thoughts:
We recommend you trying out the low FODMAPs diet if you have been diagnosed with IBS. It might be difficult initially, but it may show significant improvement in IBS symptoms.