By Dr Ibrahim Masoodi
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, long-term condition of the digestive system.
It can cause bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
The symptoms vary between individuals and affect some people more severely than others. They tend to come and go, for periods lasting a few days to a few months at a time, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods.
You may find some of the symptoms of IBS ease after going to the toilet and evacuation of gas.
IBS is a very common condition, thought to affect up to one in five people at some point in their life, and it usually first develops when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. Around twice as many women are affected as men. The condition is often lifelong, although it may improve over several years. Before you are labeled IBS, please be sure all other diagnoses with similar symptomatology is ruled out. Many patients have IBS symptoms but may have Celiac disease, microscopic colitis or Crohns disease, food allergies, etc. Thus IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion. Get evaluated to rule out other causes.
What causes IBS?
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts think that it’s related to the increased sensitivity of the gut and problems digesting food.
These problems may mean that you are more sensitive to pain coming from your gut, and you may become constipated or have diarrhea because your food passes through your gut either too slowly or too quickly. Psychological factors such as stress may also play a part in IBS. With the internet now, things at our fingertips, so read genuine literature about IBS. A word of caution do not get swayed
by marketing industry about any product claiming to cure IBS
How is IBS treated?
There is no cure for IBS, but the symptoms can often be managed by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
For example, it may help to:
1. Identify and avoid foods or drinks that trigger your symptoms
2. Exercise regularly
3. Reduce your stress levels
4. Medication is sometimes prescribed for people with IBS to treat the individual symptoms they experience.
Living with IBS:
IBS is unpredictable.
You may go for many months without any symptoms, then have a sudden flare-up.
The condition can also be painful and debilitating. Do not panic. Many people with IBS will experience feelings of depression and anxiety at some point.
An animal can not have IBS connotes that the human brain has a role to play in IBS
Speak to Doctor if you have feelings of depression or anxiety that are affecting your daily life. These problems rarely improve without treatment, and your doctor can recommend treatments such as antidepressants or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can help you cope with IBS, as well as directly treat the condition.
With appropriate medical and psychological treatment, you should be able to live a normal, full, and active life with IBS.
IBS does not pose a serious threat to your physical health and does not increase your chances of developing cancer or other bowel-related conditions.
Be sure all other causes are ruled out, and you are not just labelled IBS
Have a healthy life.
Remember 3 R’s in IBS
R1: Revise your diagnosis
R2: Read about IBS
R3: Relax.IBS troubles but doesn’t cause cancer or any life-threatening illness