Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects about 20% of Americans nationwide – a number that demands some attention. This gastro intestinal disease can be extremely uncomfortable and once diagnosed, be prepared to live with IBS for the rest of your life. It usually occurs in adults under 35 and is more common with women than men. Since it’s a lifelong condition it’s best to be aware of the causes, symptoms and cures.
The biological cause behind it all is a lack of communication between the nerves in your bowels and your brain that results in dysfunction of the gastro intestinal muscles. But what causes this lack of communication in the nervous system? Although it’s officially unknown there is strong speculation about some possible catalysts. Even though these are not scientifically proven, they definitely deserve an honorable mention:
- Food allergies
- Hormone changes (like menopause, for example)
- Many cases develop after gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
- Poor diet (processed, high sugar foods)
As you can see, many of these Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes can be avoided and isn’t it worth it to possibly save you a painful condition for the rest of your life? If you cut out what you can, chances are evading a case of IBS won’t be the only positive outcome you experience.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome pain can be extremely uncomfortable but manageable once diagnosed so it’s best to stay alert for symptoms. The indicators below can range from somewhat unpleasant to severely painful:
- Change in frequency of bowel movements whether less frequent or more frequent (diarrhea or constipation)
- Change in stool consistency
- Abdominal distension or bloating
Other symptoms that should be mentioned but can also be caused by a disease other than IBS: Bloody stool, nausea, fever, weight loss.
If you’re still not sure since the symptoms listed above might seem a bit vague or general it’s a good rule of thumb to pay attention to any abdominal discomfort relating to bowel movements; especially when they occur at least 2-3 times per week for a period of two months or more. If this is the case consult a medical specialist and test for other non-functional diseases first. Those are more important and easier to diagnose. Once other conditions have been ruled out only then can IBS be diagnosed.
Diet & Cures
It’s obvious Irritable Bowel Syndrome isn’t a pleasant experience to endure. The good news is there are many ways to control symptoms and “flare ups” to make it a very manageable condition. Listed below are some good guidelines to follow and make your life as IBS-free as possible:
- Stay away from caffeine!!
- Drink lots and lots of water
- Pay attention to food allergies and sensitivities; especially lactose intolerance
- Avoid alcohol, soda, dairy products, high sugar and fatty foods (processed foods), and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts which can increase gassiness
- Eat smaller meals at a slower pace throughout the day as opposed to inhaling a few large meals
- Consume food high in dietary fiber
- Incorporate natural beneficial bacteria into your daily regimen. Look for a gentle, organic liquid probiotic that is dairy, wheat, and soy-free.
- Low stress lifestyle – can’t emphasize this enough. Try yoga, breathing exercises, a massage, etc. - whatever helps you wind down.
- Maintain active physical fitness levels
Does any of this advice look familiar? It’s just another example of what a huge impact a healthy diet and active lifestyle can have on your overall health. Practice any number of the guidelines laid out above and your body will thank you later, IBS or not.