Azuria Life     Resources    Health and Safety Articles    Irritable Bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): a universal illness

Irritable bowel syndrome affects a large portion of the population. It tends to manifest itself on the large intestine, or more precisely the colon. Nevertheless, and thankfully, it would not result in inflammation or permanent damage to the colon, nor would it increase the chance of colon cancer as some other intestinal diseases do.

IBS symptoms are often uncomfortable in nature and they can be abdominal pain or cramping, bloating, flatulence, as well as diarrhea and/or constipation. Such symptoms are generally mild and the condition can be contained or improved through a switch to a more appropriate diet plan. Having said that, there have been cases where certain symptoms can get more severe and there are times these give rise to other diseases like haemorrhoids and malnourishment.

No one expert is clear about what really causes irritable bowel syndrome. Though that has not stopped researchers and scientists to put out hypothesis on the probable causes, some of them include a particular sensitivity and reactivity of the colon to certain foods and stress, an abnormal or uncoordinated motility of the colon, bacterial infections and certain food intolerances such as celiac disease. Even with the absence of conclusive reasons for IBS, experts have helped to identify certain risk factors. Those who are below the age of 35 years old, female gender and who have someone in the history associated with irritable bowel syndrome are deemed to be more susceptible to IBS.

With the cause of irritable bowel syndrome not clearly established, treatment options for IBS are often reactive in nature, in accordance with the symptoms that patients experience. But above all else, it is important to remember that an appropriate dietary regimen is often good enough to relieve or prevent the symptoms. So it makes all the more sense to stay away form foods that can trigger or accentuate such symptoms like dairy products, chocolate, beans, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and sugar-free sweeteners.

If you are experiencing constipation as symptom of IBS, a high-fiber diet can help to bring relief. But the same diet would not do any good for patients who are down with diarrhea symptom. A better alternative is to split your meals into several small, frequent meals throughout the day, in your effort to regulate the intestinal function. Interestingly, doctors have pointed out one effective preventive measure is stress management, as stress is often regarded as a contributing factor for irritable bowel syndrome.

Severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If your IBS symptoms become more severe, it is advisable to approach your doctor so that he can prescribe some useful medications. The medicines recommended would vary with the types of symptoms present. Fiber supplements and laxatives could help a lot to relieve or prevent constipation, while anti-diarrhoeal drugs are effective in dealing with diarrhea. Antispasmodics are also commonly used. They are helpful to control muscle spasms of the colon and relieve abdominal pain. Antibiotics are sometimes dispensed when irritable bowel syndrome is associated with or accompanied by an overgrowth of bacteria in the colon (otherwise they are not as helpful in general IBS symptoms). And there is of course the alosetron and lubiprostone, two drugs meant and approved only for women to relieve diarrhea or constipation, respectively. As these drugs come with inherent side effects which could be potentially serious, they are prescribed only when the earlier prescriptions of other medications have failed.

Recently, more patients have turned to alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbs, probiotics (good bacteria which usually exist in the intestine and can also be found in yogurt and dietary supplements), as well as yoga and other relaxation techniques. Many are impressed with how these alternatives bring about effective relief.

As treatment of irritable bowel syndrome generally takes times, with continued use of medications, it is advisable that one should have an appropriate international health insurance plan to help cover the associated costs.