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Irritable Bowel Syndrome
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What You Need to Know about Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition of the gut that triggers episodes of bloating, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea or constipation. It is a problem associated with how the bowel functions. Irritable bowel syndrome does not bring harm to the body, but it causes discomfort. The causes of IBS remain unknown, and they can range from mild to severe. IBS is believed not to have any cure; however, simple lifestyle changes, as well as treatment, make the symptoms better and there are cases of complete cure with a multi-faceted approach.
Irritable bowel syndrome upsets the function of the gut. It can affect anyone at any age but is most prominent among young adults and affects women more than men. Irritable bowel syndrome gives rise to long-term symptoms  which come and go.
Treatment often helps relieve the symptoms whenever they flare-up. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Bloating and swelling of the abdomen which may develop from time to time
  • Discomfort and pain in the stomach, which usually come and goes
  • Changes in stools

While some people experience constipation, others may have diarrhea. Some individuals may experience the urgency to go to the toilet, which implies they need to get to the bathroom as fast as they can. Other symptoms include
tiredness, backache, headache, heartburn, muscle pain, bladder symptoms, and nausea. Some individuals experience mild symptoms occasionally while others experience severe ones.

Tests for IBS
A stool test and blood test are often taken to rule out conditions such as cancer of the ovaries, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or gut infection. Other complicated tests including colonoscopy or gastroscopy are not needed; however, they may be performed if the person exhibits untypical symptoms.

Factors Associated with Over-activity in the Gut
Over-activity in the gut area may determine where the pain is and whether diarrhea or constipation develops. The reason behind over-activity in the gut area is unclear; nevertheless, the following may play a crucial part.

  • Excessive functioning of the nerves or muscles of the gut. It is not determined why this happens. It may be linked to excessive messages sent from the brain to the gut.
  • Emotional upset or stress may also play a role. Roughly 50% of individuals with irritable bowel syndrome can relate the start of symptoms to an event that triggered stress. Symptoms tend to become worse when the person is greatly anxious or stressed out.
  • Infection in the gut also plays a part in some cases. The onset of symptoms often follows after a gut infection with diarrhea.
  • Oversensitivity to pain. Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome experience more pain when there is an expansion of the gut. They may also have a lower threshold for pain.

Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes can help in managing IBS. Regular exercise is also beneficial in helping relieve the symptoms. The level of stress is also imperative. Emotional factors and stress may trigger symptoms in some individuals; so anything that can diminish the level of stress or emotional upset may be beneficial. Keeping a symptom diary is also essential. Keep track of your lifestyle foods for 2 to 4 weeks to monitor the activities and symptoms. Jot down everything you drink and eat and the times that you feel stressed.

Dietary Changes
Food intolerances have been associated with IBS symptoms for several years; however, there have been different details that often create frustration and confusion as to the kind of foods IBS patients should avoid or include in their diet. In a recent study, it has been identified that there are six essential approaches to the successful management of irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Rule out any intolerance to lactose. The symptoms of lactose intolerance as well as the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome overlap.
  • Restrict consumption of insoluble fiber, which is primarily found in brown rice, nuts, seeds, wheat bran, dried fruit, as well as whole-grain bread that adds bulkiness to the stool and can worsen IBS symptoms in some individuals. It is beneficial to remove the skin peeling of vegetables and fruits to eliminate insoluble fiber.
  • Supplement with linseeds. In cases where constipation is present, linseeds otherwise known as flaxseeds are beneficial in relieving constipation, bloating, as well as abdominal discomfort for patients with irritable bowel syndrome and experiencing constipation. Adding linseeds to the diet may help bowel function.
  • Diminish consumption of fermentable carbohydrates. They are small carbohydrate molecules fermented by intestinal bacteria, which then leads to abdominal pain constipation, diarrhea, or excessive gas in the abdomen.
  • Supplement with probiotic. Probiotics are microorganisms that when taken adequately may offer health benefits. They aid healthy digestion and protect from harmful bacteria in the intestine. Research studies have found that in various cases, probiotics may be beneficial in improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. If other dietary approaches have been unsuccessful, a 4-week trial of probiotics is useful but, it is important also to know that probiotics are not medicine. They are available in capsule form, powder, or tablet, and can be found in yogurts.
  • Eliminate suspected trigger food. If a specific food appears to trigger IBS symptoms, eliminate that food from your diet for 2 to 4 weeks.

Please consult a complementary health practitioner for alternative and holistic ways to help you. Working on the root cause, which is usually an emotional or mental stress trigger can make a big difference in resolving IBS amongst other aspects.


  1. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/irritable_bowel_syndrome/article_em.htm
  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/definition-fact



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