IBS awareness – You might be suffering from IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS for short is a common intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach along with bloating, wind, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and/or constipation.
Studies have shown that IBS affects one in five people at some point during their lifetime. First development can occur during your 20’s – 30’s and often turns out to be lifelong, and more women are affected by IBS than men.
IBS can cause intestinal damage but is not common and does not increase your risk of gastrointestinal cancers but can have a negative affect on your daily life. Unfortunately, the cause of IBS is unknown, but your Doctor may be able to diagnose IBS based on your symptoms and a couple of other tests like doing a colonoscopy or blood tests.
There is no cure for IBS and most treatment will be for the relief of symptoms. Certain home remedies or lifestyle changes may help to relieve your IBS symptoms without the use of medication. Examples of these lifestyle changes include:
- Participating in regular physical exercise
- Cutting back on caffeinated beverages that stimulate the intestines.
- Eating smaller meals
- Minimizing stress
- Taking probiotics (“good” bacteria normally found in the intestines) to help relieve gas and bloating.
- Avoiding deep-fried or spicy foods
Managing your diet is very important when you have IBS and with some extra effort and time, you will notice the difference. There are some foods you can avoid by modifying amounts or eliminating certain foods such as dairy, fried foods, indigestible sugars, and beans may help to reduce different symptoms. For some people, adding spices and herbs such as ginger, peppermint, and chamomile has helped to reduce some IBS symptoms. Lifestyle changes can assist in the managing of IBS such as following a healthy diet, staying hydrated, regular exercise, and managing stress.
You should see your GP immediately if you have other symptoms, including:
- Unexplained weight loss
- A swelling or lump in your stomach or back passage
- Bleeding from your back passage
- Signs of anaemia
- Bladder problems – such as needing to wake up to urinate at night, experiencing an urgent need to urinate, and difficulty fully emptying the bladder.
Your GP might refer you to see a dietitian if medications or home remedies do not work. Other alternative treatments include Biofeedback, Cognitive behavioural therapy, or seeing a Gastroenterologist.
If you or a loved one think you might be suffering from IBS do not wait to speak to your GP about your symptoms to start treatment as soon as possible.