Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that has four primary classifications: IBS-D, IBS-C, IBS-M, and IBS-U. The classification depends solely upon symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea. And whether or not one, both, or none of these symptoms are present. Though some treatments can improve an individual's symptoms, there is no definitive cure.
The gut-brain axis is a connection that exists between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. This can include gut flora. Off-balanced gut flora has been known to throw off the digestive system and cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Infections are known to be a cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a common type of infection-based IBS. A particular type of IBS can develop after unrelated GI infections such as gastroenteritis, and it is called post-infectious IBS.
While it might seem completely unrelated, stressful life events are a leading cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. One of the prominent traumatic events is sexual trauma. As many as 33% of diagnosed cases of IBS have a sexual trauma history attached to them. Because of the correlation between stress and IBS, conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression can lead to IBS.
Type IBS-D is the typical irritable bowel syndrome diagnosis. This diagnosis is determined when diarrhea is uncontrollable and happens at least twice a day. These episodes can last more than two weeks. It is not uncommon for blood to be found in the stool as well.
Constipation is noted primarily in the IBS-C type of irritable bowel syndrome. An individual can experience mild constipation that will feel like ragged edges or more severe constipation that will feel like there are marbles trapped in the gut. Most often, constipation will be accompanied by abdominal pain.
Typically, a person will develop IBS before they have reached the age of 45. If an individual is over 50, it is a more worrisome sign and may require the intervention of a specialist. Most commonly, it is diagnosed in the mid-to-late twenties, as the body is going through significant changes. In diagnosed cases, it appears that women are two to three times more likely than men to have some form of irritable bowel syndrome.
While there are helpful fiber solutions available over the counter, these are not deemed to be medications. Remedies consist of stool softeners, anti-diarrhea medications, and more. Laxatives are widely known to soften the stool and increase bowel movements. The most effective laxatives are only available through prescription.
Diet changes can help treat IBS. One such diet is the FODMAP diet which is restricted to fermentable foods and has been found to be extremely beneficial in treating the primary types of IBS. The FODMAP diet helps to control the overgrowth of the gut flora and other gut disorders while maintaining better control over the digestive tract. Fiber solutions or bulking agents is another option. Fiber allows individuals more consistent stools with a more consistent texture, that are softer and easier to pass.
Hypnosis is said to be a meaningful way to reduce the stressors that produce IBS. Therapeutic relaxation efforts such as meditation, yoga, CHI, and routine exercise are all ways to reduce stress and help to alleviate chronic IBS.
Patient education is unilaterally the greatest tool. The lack of education is often related to longer periods of misdiagnoses. Informing yourself with the information from the right sources allows you to gain insight on what is going on in your body. A nutritionist can help to set up diets while a physical therapist can assist with targeted exercises for your body. Always discuss any changes with your physician before implementing them into daily life.
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