IBS Symptoms

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a condition related to the intestines. It causes constipation or diarrhea, bloating or cramping and stomach pain. The exact cause of this disorder remains unknown and the reasons for its development may differ from person to person. IBS may result from issues in digesting certain foods, anxiety, stress and an irregularity in the processing of signals between the digestive tract and the brain. Patients of this disorder suffer from movement issues of intestinal muscles and have a very sensitive gastrointestinal tract.

IBS is among the most common intestinal disorders in the world and affects about 7% to 10% people worldwide. Women are twice more likely to suffer from IBS than men.

What Are IBS Symptoms?

IBS symptoms are as follows:

  • Alteration in the patents of bowel movement
  • Excess gas and bloating
  • Pain felt in the lower part of the belly
  • Stools that contain mucus

If you have been suffering from the abovementioned IBS symptoms for at least 6 months then you have a high chance of suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Moreover, the risk increases if you have been having belly pain for the past 3 months with the pain lasting for about 3 days each month. Your risk of IBS also increases if:

  • A bowel movement helps in relieving your pain
  • The pain changes with a change in your frequency of bowel movement
  • The pain changes within a change in consistency and appearance of your stool

Since IBS does not cause any kind of structural intestinal problems, therefore, some patients believe that the IBS symptoms they are experiencing are all fictional in nature and are not real. This, however, is untrue as bloating, discomfort and the pain felt by the patient are all real. These IBS symptoms stem from various causes that can be treated to provide relief to the patients.

When to See a Doctor

Even though 20% of all American adults show IBS symptoms, less than 20% of them actually go to a doctor for a consultation. However, it is extremely important that you visit a doctor soon if you find that the changes in your bowel movements are happening very quickly or you are experiencing some other IBS symptoms. The reason for this is that these symptoms might point towards a more life-threatening condition like colon cancer.

IBS symptoms that might indicate the presence of a serious medical condition are:

  • Pain in the abdomen which increases during night
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Rectal bleeding

The doctor is going to help you in finding relief from IBS symptoms and is also going to perform tests which will rule out the presence of colon cancer and other conditions related to the colon like inflammatory bowel disease. The doctor will also help you in preventing the complications that might occur because of IBS like chronic diarrhea.

How to Soothe IBS Symptoms at Home

Simple lifestyle and diet changes can go a long way in providing relief to a patient from IBS symptoms. Even though you might not see immediate results from these changes, they are going to help you in the long run and will provide permanent solutions to your bowel problems.

  • Experiment with fiber. Fiber can prove to be both good and bad for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. On the one hand, it can reduce constipation while on the other hand it can increase the production of gas in the body and worsen your cramping. Thus, it is better to increase the dose of fiber in a gentle manner rather than abruptly increasing the dose. You can take fiber naturally by consuming whole grains, beans, vegetable and fruits or can make use of a fiber supplement like Citrucel or Metamucil. However, remember to drink lots of water when taking fiber supplements to avoid bloating and constipation.
  • Avoid problem foods. Certain food like chocolate, beverages such as sodas and coffee, dairy products, alcohol and sugar-free sweeteners like mannitol and sorbitol can worsen the IBS symptoms. Thus, it is best to avoid these problems foods. In addition to this, excluding beans, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage from your diet can be a good idea if have gas trouble too.
  • Eat at regular times. Make sure that you eat regularly as it is going to help you in regulating your bowel movements. Eating small meals at frequent intervals is the best way to avoid diarrhea. However, if constipation is one of your biggest concerns, then eating a good deal of fiber-rich foods becomes necessary.
  • Take care with dairy products. Although dairy products are fine, it is better to include yogurt in your diet instead of milk. This becomes even more necessary if you suffer from lactose intolerance. For such patients it becomes necessary to increase their intake of vitamin B, calcium and protein from supplements and other source.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Drinking plenty of fluids is important too especially water. Alcohol, caffeinated beverages and carbonated drinks should all be avoided as they cause diarrhea and gas respectively.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising on a regular basis can prove to be beneficial for reducing stress and depression and can stimulate the contractions of your intestine as well, thus reliving your IBS symptoms.
  • Use anti-diarrheal medications and laxatives with caution. Limit the use of ant-diarrheal medications and laxatives as much as possible and only take them if it is absolutely necessary.
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