Effective options to control IBS, irritable bowel syndrome

I enjoy meeting other bloggers on blog link-ups and on one of them recently another blogger asked me about IBS. I had not read much about it recently so decided to research and write a post about it . So whether you already know something about IBS, or if it’s new to you,  here is that post. Thanks Kat, from KusKat Studio.

IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, is a common gastrointestinal disorder, of unknown cause.

It is distinct from conditions referred to as inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which I won’t discuss here.

Currently there is no one generally recognized blood test, scan, image, or other diagnostic test that confirms IBS. Your doctor may order testing to exclude other conditions such as celiac sensitivity,  lactose intolerance, or colon cancer.

diagram of the human digestive organs

the human digestive system -irritable bowel syndrome mainly involves the colon and rectum, and probably also the small intestine.

 

The symptoms of IBS are not unique , making diagnosis difficult since it can be confused with other conditions.

IBS is defined by

Recurrent abdominal pain averaging 1 day per week for 3 months associated with

  • Bowel movements
  • Change in frequency of stool
  • Change in form or appearance of stool.

The change in bowel habits can be diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both.

There may be other symptoms-bloating, abdominal distention, flatulence, tiredness, headaches, painful urination, but these are not required for diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic explains what symptoms may suggest you need tests for other conditions.by your doctor.

The cause of IBS is still uncertain.

At one time doctors believed it was due to overactive muscles in the bowel wall, leading to the once used name “spastic colon.” Current thinking is  the nerves to the bowel are hypersensitive and send signals to the brain which then over interprets them as pain. This hypersensitivity may be triggered by food, bacteria, or toxins in the bowel.

An altered immune response to infections may also precipitate the condition. Changes in the number and type of bacteria that live in the bowel has been identified as a possible cause.

The symptoms of IBS may fluctuate and even go into remission spontaneously, so it can be difficult to definitely know what works and what doesn’t. Management can be divided into two categories.

Effective options to control IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

photo from the collection at LIghtstock.com, stock photo site (an affiliate link, a commission may be paid to this blog)

 

 

Non-drug treatment options

Regular exercise, such as a daily walk, jogging trail signencourages the bowel to move more efficiently.

 

 

Experts recommend changes of food choices as a first step to symptom control.

 

 

 

The Cleveland Clinic offers these general guidelines on eating with IBS.

  • Limiting alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, fat, and gas-producing foods may benefit many with IBS.
  • Avoiding or eliminating milk products, fiber, and/or gluten may be considered next if symptoms persist.

cup of milk, plate of bread

 

 

Some studies show a low FODMAP diet is especially helpful for bloating whether diarrhea or constipation is the major problem. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that aren’t absorbed properly in the gut.

Stanford University Medical Center provides this  Low FODMAP Diet
(FODMAP=Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols) 

FODMAPs are found in various  fruits, vegetables, cereals, breads, dairy, and sweeteners so it can be challenging to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Using a list such as this one or working with a knowledgeable dietician can make it easier to find what works for you.

 

Mind based therapies

With IBS, hypersensitive nerves from the gut send pain signals to the brain. Because of this nervous system involvement,  one’s thoughts and emotions can both improve and exacerbate symptoms of IBS.   Psychological therapies are often recommended- CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), hypnotherapy, and psychotherapy.

Drug therapy for IBS

Non -prescription drugs used for IBS include

Both groups may also get help from probiotics.

(These are affiliate links used to support this blog at no additional cost to you.)

Prescription meds available in the United States specifically for IBS include linaclotide, lubiprostone, eluxadoline , and rifaximin. Drugs originally developed for depression, the TCAs and the SSRIs , also are effective.

What to do if you think you may have IBS

Monitor your symptoms carefully, keeping a written record, for 1-2 months. Take this to your doctor for an evaluation. However if you have these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

  • bleeding in bowel movements
  • unexpected weight loss
  • fever
  • profuse diarrhea
  • persistent failure to pass stool
  • severe, disabling pain

 

A primary care doctor-a family medicine or internal medicine doctor- can evaluate these symptoms initially, and decide if referral to a GI specialist, a gastroenterologist , is needed for more specialized testing.

The American College of Gastroenterology offers these resources for patients with irritable bowel syndrome. 

If you have been diagnosed with IBS

Your doctor likely has already recommended some of the measure I have listed above. If not, and your symptoms are not controlled, then you might want to discuss to see if they are appropriate for you.

 

Remember, this information and links are provided for your information and are not endorsement,  advice ,or treatment. I  encourage you to seek care from your personal physician. 

 

I appreciate your sharing  this post on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

26952564_10213093560871954_4239554644472378905_oSincerely, Dr. Aletha 

 

 

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Don’t drink the water- how to avoid water related disease

You’ve probably heard the advice “Don’t drink the water” when you travel to less developed areas of the world. But water can make you sick even without drinking it.

Bacteria and other disease causing organisms can be transmitted by swimming and other water related sports

  • in private and public pools
  • recreational freshwater and oceans
  • hot tubs, splash pads, water parks
  • decorative fountains

Drinking, inhaling, and direct contact with water contaminated with a variety of bugs can cause a wide range of illness, most of which is preventable. Here is an overview of common conditions to watch out for.

Drowning-

The most serious risk of water is drowning or near drowning, with 3,300 deaths and another 5,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States.

Children are especially at risk of drowning. Teaching children to swim as early as practical and supervising them around pools and other bodies of water are critical to prevention.

Drowning Prevention

caution signs at a swimming pool.
Drowning can be prevented by following rules.

Gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) illness-

Symptoms

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, fever

Causes

stream with a kayak
Water in creeks, streams, and rivers is not safe to swallow.

Respiratory (nose, throat, lungs) illness

Symptoms-cough, nasal/sinus congestion,ear pain/fullness,fever

Swimmer’s Ear

Causes-

  • pool chemicals
  • Legionella and other bacteria
rapids in a stream

Skin conditions

Symptoms– rash, redness, itching, burning

Causes –

Most of these conditions resolve without treatment, or are treatable with appropriate antibiotics.

two people dangling their legs into a pool.
Don’t let water related illness spoil your summer fun. photo from stock photo site- Lightstock.com- affiliate link

Serious but rare

Primary amebic meningoencephalitis is a rare but deadly sinus-related infection caused by Naegleria fowleri in freshwater and soil 

Leptospirosis is another brain infection caused by a group of spirochetes known collectively as leptospires. It also is infrequent.

How to prevent infection

  1. Water used for recreation should not be drunk ,even if treated with chlorine.
  2. Children younger than five years should not use hot tubs.
  3. Persons with diarrhea or recent diarrhea infection should not swim for one week after symptoms have cleared.
  4. Swimmers should shower before using a hot tub or pool.
  5. Don’t swim with open wounds, or use waterproof bandage if you do. .
  6. Learn more and get more tips on staying well at these links from

drawing of a child standing on a diving board at a pool
from the American Academy of Family Physicians

from American Family Physician

Waterborne Illnesses

Safe Surfing

Sea Creature Injuries and Fish Poisoning

And from the Smithsonian , get more detail about

8 diseases to watch out for at the beach 

(This post contains affiliate links which, by paying a commission if used for a purchase, help fund this blog. )

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exploring the HEART of summer health

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