Irritable Bowel Syndrome 101 (IBS)

Things to Learn About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

How do you feel about having an upset stomach? This is a no-brainer when you say that you will be upset as well. It is not easy when you have to make quick or long and frequent trips to the bathroom. However, it is the bathroom that you also be the fixture of your obsession when you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This condition is also called as mucous colitis and spastic colon. Having this condition is comparable to a situation when you have a persistent caller over the phone that just would not let you of your conversations. Even if you try to ignore that caller, you just cannot. This is how annoying IBS is as a digestive problem.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Like many other types of digestive problems, there are several symptoms that can help you identify if you really have some disorder. This is why it is advisable to visit the doctor regularly. If you feel something bad in any part of your body, it already means that you have done something wrong, one way or another. The human body is just like a machine that is about to wear down when it always becomes defective even with little or no use of it. When it comes to this condition about a problematic tummy, you have to be alert about certain things.

Among the symptoms that make a spastic colon more recognizable is that they are definitely irritating. No wonder where they got the name of the condition. However, the condition also has symptoms that are definitely painful. When you have diarrhea and constipation happening one after another, you will surely not feel good. Here are the other symptoms to watch out for when you have IBS:

  • Constipation and diarrhea alternating with one another
  • Gas and bloating
  • Cramping or abdominal pains
  • Headache
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Nausea that worsens every after your meal
  • Fatigue
  • Mucus-covered stools
  • Constant urge for a bowel movement

The thing is that as you keep complaining about all these symptoms but some people may not really take you seriously. Another risk factor that is also found out to be one of the causes of changing the symptoms is the sufferer’s emotional aspect. The more the sufferers of the abnormal bowel movement get depressed, the more severe the symptoms become. It is like the depression and anxiety power the symptoms of the disease. One thing that can be done here is to make the sufferers realize that having a problem with their bowel movement is not everything. It should not be the sole basis of the decisions that they are about to make in life. It would only add to their depression if they think that they are already tied up to the bathroom.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Causes

There are several factors that are considered as the causes of irritable bowel syndrome. However, these are usually subtle causes that you cannot directly attribute as the cause of the condition’s symptoms. It would be hard to notice why you suddenly have diarrhea. You may think about the foods that you have eaten but it is not only the foods that are the possible causes of the aforementioned syndrome. Here are some of the causes of this condition as per the expert’s study:

  • Bacterial overgrowth. There are more than a trillion organisms per gram of feces that are thriving inside the human intestine. This is considered as the densest environment on earth. If this little ecosystem inside the intestine is disturbed, this is when your bowel movement becomes irritating. The disruption of the ecosystem could be due to having more bacteria or organism in the intestine or having the wrong kinds of bacteria in it. This is evident in some patients who got irritable bowel syndrome cure with the help of intestine-specific antibiotics. Another known cure is when more probiotics is taken to add more good bacteria and eliminate the bad bacteria in the intestine which cause the syndrome.
  • Diet. Other people exhibit irritable bowel symptoms after eating the wrong kinds of foods for their stomach. According to the observation of the different cases of this syndrome, some of the problem foods are fatty foods, dairy products, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and caffeine. These foods are harder to digest than the other types of foods. They may have caused some problems with the digestive enzymes. However, this can be addressed with the introduction of the necessary enzymes into the body, such as pancrelipase, lactase, and beta-glycosidase. You may ask your doctor for prescription for these enzymes.
  • Visceral hypersensitivity. The human intestine has sensory nerve endings that send signals to the brain to the spinal cord. It is the also the spinal cord’s responsibility to send signals to the nerve endings from the brain but the message comes as a reflex arc. These reflex arcs control the contraction of the intestinal muscles and the secretion of fluids and the like. However, these nerve endings react in a wrong way when you have irritable bowels. This is called visceral hypersensitivity which causes diarrhea or constipation and abdominal pain in the sufferers. This kind of condition is found out to be triggered by stress and the wrong diet. By controlling your stress levels and keeping careful notes of the problem foods, you can stay away from the irritating syndrome.
  • Other causes. There are many other factors that only heighten a person’s possibility to increase the irritable bowel syndrome causes. These factors include sensitivity to foods, eating too quickly, overeating, smoking, use of prescription drugs, and hormonal changes. With the last factor, IBS is found out to occur in women who are about to have their menstruation cycle at a certain period in a month. People who are lactose intolerant and who managed to eat something with dairy may experience irritable bowels too. There is also a warning to those who abuse the use of laxatives or stool softeners. These can only make you more prone to the wrong bowel movement.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Remedies at Home

Once you experience some notable irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, it is high time that you start looking for the right remedies. If you choose only a single irritable bowel syndrome remedy, this may not work that fast. It is much better to use combined remedies for instant relief. You would not want to live near a bathroom for a long time as you switch between having diarrhea and constipation. When your bowels cannot seem to make up their mind, you would not be able to do anything with efficiency either. You will keep stopping and getting bathroom breaks. In fact, given the stomach cramps and other abdominal pains that you may experience, it would be a slim chance if you can still go to work.

If you no longer want the disruption brought about by out of control bowel movement, you can use any of the following irritable bowel syndrome remedies:

  • Eat pomegranate seeds with black salt to treat your condition.
  • Drink water with rock salt for relief.
  • Mix ten grams of Indian gooseberry with water. Crush the berries and sprinkle some black salt in it. This can relieve your discomfort.
  • Take a teaspoon of honey with a drop of dill oil in it after meals.
  • Prepare a teaspoon of flax seeds and put them into a cup of boiling water. Drink this before going to bed.
  • Take peppermint oil, even if it is already in capsules.
  • Prepare a half teaspoon of powdered dry ginger in a cup of warm water. Mix rock salt and asafoetida in it. Drink it for relief.
  • Have some oat bran for your meals because it is colon-friendly. It can be made into oatmeal cookies and bread aside from the plain oatmeal. However, this may take effect only after a month.
  • Always drink a lot of water, at least eight glasses, every day. This is even more necessary if you have more fiber intake or if you have diarrhea.
  • Eat carrots even when they are raw or prepare them with salads. You may also steam carrots and put in a little brown sugar and melted butter. These can help regulate your constipation. Carrots can also be put into the juicer to obtain some carrot juice mixed with a little pure apricot nectar.
  • Blend cabbage or squeeze juice from it through the juicer. You may also cook it with s small amount of water until it is mushy enough. You can make it even softer with a grinder or fork.
  • Lettuce can be eaten raw to as an effective irritable bowel syndrome home remedy to address the symptoms. The darker the lettuce, the more nutrients you will get from it.
  • Yogurt can provide you good bacteria for your digestive tract which can ease the condition’s symptoms. You can also experiment with yogurt as you mix it with half a teaspoon of psyllium husks and a cup of yogurt. Eat this mixture an hour after a meal.
  • Pears are also helpful for your tummy’s relief. Put a fully ripened pear into the juicer to get juice. You may also eat dried pears.
  • Prepare a teaspoon of flaxseed and put it into a cup of water to make tea. Drink it before bedtime.
  • Add fennel seeds, half a teaspoon of them, into a cup of boiling water. Let it seep first before drinking it. These fennel seeds can also be assed to vegetables like cabbage and carrots to help your digestive tract relax. Fennel seeds can even help take out the fats inside the system to reduce its production of mucus.
  • Peppermint can help address diarrhea and cramping, which are notable symptoms of having unruly bowels giving irritating effects. Take peppermint essential oil in capsules after each meal to relieve the signs of the ailment. Peppermint can also be made into tea to help relieve intestinal spasms. Tea can be prepared by adding a teaspoon of dried peppermint into a cup of boiling water. Wait for ten minutes before drinking it.
  • Hydrolyzed guar gum has a non gelling fiber that can dissolve in water. This can help relieve diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pains. This special gum also helps increase bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the stomach.
  • Lemon juice is another effective irritable bowel syndrome remedy. However, it is best to add only a few drops of lemon juice into a glass of water and drink it. Do not add any sugar at all.
  • Eat rice with peppermint on it. This is proven effective in reducing bloating and the pain and discomfort that come with it.
  • Aloe vera is another home remedy for IBS. Cut an aloe vera leaf and take out the pulp inside the leaf. The pulp can be made into juice which is good as your morning drink every day. It can help eliminate the signs of the irritating syndrome. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice into a glass of aloe vera.

2 Video Series On Nutrition For IBS:

Other Treatments for Irritable Bowels

Aside from relying on herbs for your irritable bowel syndrome treatment, there are also other types of treatments that you can try. These can help make your herbal remedies work as well. This way, you will no longer have to enjoy having to seemingly live in the bathroom as you battle constipation and diarrhea. These treatments include the following:

  • Diet therapy. This is always a good start for treating irritable bowels. There are foods that are high in dietary fibers that you can consume to stop diarrhea and constipation. You can find these fiber-rich foods in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. However, you should also take note of the foods that only make irritable bowel syndrome symptoms worse. These foods include dairy products, fatty foods, alcohol, and more. The best thing to do here is consume more IBS-relieving foods and reduce the consumption of the problem foods.
  • Digestive enzymes. There over-the-counter medications that can be introduced to your body and let it gain some helpful digestive enzymes. These enzymes include lacatase that can fight the production of gas from dairy products and beta-glycosidase that aims to reduce gas caused by legumes. There are also cases wherein taking pancreatic supplements is also helpful. These are good for cases with mild pancreatic insufficiency as one of the irritable bowel syndrome causes. These pancreatic supplements can help improve stool frequency and stool consistency. They can also be used to relieve abdominal pain, gas and bloating.

Recommended Diet

Diet therapy is an effective step towards irritable bowel syndrome cure. If you can do this right, you will no longer have to suffer from alternative diarrhea and constipation. There are many other kinds of pain that even come with this condition. You can counter them though with the following recommended diet:

  • High fiber diet. The more fiber you have in the colon or large intestine, where digestion happens, the less chance it has of experiencing contractions and spasms. However, this diet will not remedy diarrhea or abdominal pain. There are many sources that are rich in fiber such as cereals, whole grain breads, fruits and vegetables. This shift in your diet should be done slowly to allow your body an adjustment period. For instance, you can add two to three grams of fiber to your daily diet. According to the American Dietetic Association, men should receive 38 grams of fiber per day while women should have 25 grams per day.
  • Lactose-free diet. Consuming foods with dairy may only worsen your suffering especially those who have lactose intolerance. This is the condition wherein the body does not have lactose which digests lactose, or the sugar found in milk products. Yogurt may be made out of milk but it has its own enzyme which breaks down lactose. When you are on a lactose-free diet, you lose a significant amount of calcium. This can be replaced though with the consumption of other calcium-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce, and other green leafy vegetables.

2 Part Video Series On Living With IBS:

More Tips for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment

Aside from adjusting your diet and preparing herbal remedies at home, here are more tips that can help your condition:

  • Keep a food diary. This can definitely help control your diet about the foods that you can or cannot eat. The diary can help determine the foods that your stomach can tolerate and those that it cannot. It is best to keep recording what you have eaten for two straight weeks. You may also need to write down the stress that you are experiencing at that time, the mood that you are in and the condition of your stomach. For women, keeping a record of their condition during their menstrual period is necessary. After taking note of your daily life with stress and foods, you will know how to handle your stress and what foods to eat or not to eat.
  • Relax. This is easier said than done but it is still worth doing. Sometimes, IBS flatulence is triggered by stressful situations. You know that you are already stressed out when your muscles are tensed. To relax, you just have to let the tension off. This can be done through progressive muscle relaxation. You tighten each muscle group one by one and relax them one by one as well. Do this all throughout your body. This will immediately give you more awareness as to when your muscles are already tensed up.
  • Deal with your fears and conquer them. The more you let your fear overcome your entire being, the more stressed out you will be. You may consult a professional counselor for this case.
  • Exercise. This can help put your digestive system into active mode. When you exercise, you can trick your body into forgetting about the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The trick comes from the release of endorphins or feel-good hormones that can also help alleviate your pain. However, it is recommended that you only do moderate exercise to avoid stressing the body out and making your diarrhea worse.
  • Imagine being in a stress free surroundings. This can be done by simply letting your imagination work. Close your eyes and think of a beautiful, happy place. Imagine closely how it looks, smells, sounds, feels and tastes. The more detailed your imagination is, the easier it can carry you to a place in your mind where you can relax.
  • Eat slowly. If you eat like there is no other time for you to do so, you will swallow more air. This can go to your digestive system where it can form into additional intestinal gases. Avoid eating chewing gum as well to minimize swallowed air.
  • Inhale deeply to relieve stress. When you no longer have the time to exercise, you can simply breathe deeply when you feel stressed. This is an effective relaxation technique. Focus on the way you inhale and exhale as your chest rises and falls slowly.
  • Eat smaller and more frequent meals. You can eat five to six meals daily but with smaller portions. This way, you will avoid overloading your digestive system. This can also help avoid diarrhea and cramping.
  • Take a hot bath. This can help relieve your cramping. Other ways to relieve your cramps is to put a heating pad to hot compress on your abdomen.
  • Drink water in between meals. This can help digestion better instead of drinking while eating. Water while eating will dilute the necessary digestive juices that are necessary for your digestion.
  • Control your use of laxatives. These are safe except for those with deficient kidneys. However, you better ask about these laxatives from your doctor. There are cases when laxatives are not recommended when you as irritable bowel syndrome cure. Moreover, overused laxatives can damage your intestines.
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