IBS an acronym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disorder which affects 10-20% of the adult population that means 1 in 5 of us have some form of IBS and mostly affecting women. Resulting in the 2nd most frequently diagnosis in the medical industry. IBS sufferers are also 3x times more likely to miss work, even though 70% of us don’t consult a physician.
So What Is IBS?
IBS is an umbrella heading for many symptoms that group together. There are 3 main types of IBS categories:
IBS – C (constipation)
When you most frequently have constipation
IBS – D (diarrhoea)
When you suffer with diarrhea related to certain foods or emotional triggers
IBS – A (Alternating between constipation & diarrhoea)
This is when you alternate between constipation and diarrhoea
IBS – PI (Post Infectious)
After experiencing a severe case of Gastrointestinal flu it affect the balance of bacteria in the gut and alter the motility of the digestive tract, resulting in IBS.
IBS also comes in many different degrees and intolerances. Some people have mild cases where they will have symptoms from once to three times a month, to severe cases resulting in symptoms daily, without any other likely causes for concern.
What are the symptoms?
People with IBS are usually affected by an array of symptoms, often with:
• Abdominal pain
• Abdominal discomfort
• Bowel movements that occur more or less often
• Changes in bowel habits/motions
• Hard stools
• Less hard stool can also be watery (diarrhea)
• Symptoms improve after bowel movement
More severe symptoms may include
- Diarrhea daily
- Constipation – Stools that are hard, painful and difficult to pass, resulting in less than 3 bowel movements per week.
- The feeling of an incomplete bowel movement
- Passing a clear mucus
- Abdominal bloating
- Brain fog
What causes IBS?
Most often it can be due to diet. A lot of people have some intolerance’s to food which can trigger symptoms of IBS such as:
- Food high in FODMAPs which produces gas.
- Fried foods
- Emotional stress
- Alcohol / caffeine
Keeping a food diary is a good idea to keep tract of what foods may trigger your symptoms. Click here to download the Food Mood Diary.
Most IBS suffers also have other GI conditions that contribute to the symptoms. For example, some suffer with a Hypo-sensitive bowel. We all have a second brain, OK so it doesn’t look like a brain, instead our gut has a huge amount of nerves that sends signals to our brain to make sure our bodies are working properly, this means you can’t consciously control how your body works. It tells our body to produce hormones, which tells our organs to keep working correctly. For people with hypo-sensitive bowels they do not produce certain hormones. In some cases individuals don’t produce enough serotonin to send a signal to tell the bowel to move digested food along, resulting in chronic constipation. This can cause IBS symptoms to flare up, bloating and have cramping.
Stress, can also be another major factor. As we know the colon has many nerves connected to the brain if the individual is under stress this irritates the motion of the colon and increases the condition of the IBS. On the other hand IBS can cause stress, thus affecting the persons state of mind (a vicious circle). Read about how to manage stress here.
Should I worry?
The simple answer is no. IBS will not damage your GI tract just symptoms caused by changes in the GI tract which happens to everyone, just some people have them more frequently than others in turn affecting ones lifestyle and making it a little more uncomfortable than normal. However with a careful diet, gentle daily exercise and managing your stress levels, will help in reducing IBS symptoms.
**Remember if you plan to go on any diet you must consult with you doctor before taking the next step.
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Please remember I’m not a doctor of any kind and the information on this site is advisory only, you must always consult a qualified physician prior to dramatic lifestyle changes or if you have any cause for concern about your own well-being.