Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the colon or large intestine. This disease is characterized by symptoms of abdominal pain, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or constipation. This disease may indicate a chronic condition that must be treated immediately.

However, not all sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome show severe symptoms. Symptoms vary greatly depending on the severity and how long you experience them. Some people can control their symptoms by regulating a healthy diet, lifestyle, and reducing stress.

If you experience more severe symptoms, it is recommended to consult a doctor immediately for further treatment. Severe irritable bowel syndrome can increase the risk of colorectal cancer – a cancer that grows in the colon.

Irritable bowel syndrome can have a significant effect on your life and can interfere with your daily activities if it recurs. Speak to a gastroenterologist for appropriate treatment.

Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Until today, the cause of irritable bowel syndrome is still unknown. The most common cause is an overly sensitive colon or a weak immune system. Below are some possible causes of irritable bowel syndrome that you should be aware of:

  • Severe infection. Irritable bowel syndrome can occur after having severe diarrhea or gastroenteritis caused by bacteria or viruses. This disease can also be caused by excessive growth of bacteria in the intestine.
  • Inflammation of the intestines. People with irritable bowel diseases may have more immune cells in the intestines related to abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Nervous system disorders. The presence of abnormalities in the digestive system can cause the stomach to feel uncomfortable when your stomach releases gas or feces. Poor communication signals between the brain and intestines can cause your body to overreact to changes that usually occur in the digestive process. As a result, you experience abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea.
  • Muscle contractions of the stomach. The intestinal wall is lined with muscle tissue that contracts when processing food through the digestive tract. Contractions will get stronger and occur for longer than usual, causing bloating and diarrhea. Weaker intestinal contractions can slow food passage and lead to hard, dry stools.
  • Gut microbial changes. Microbes are a group of good bacteria that normally reside in the intestine and play a vital role in health. However, the microbes in people with irritable bowel syndrome might differ from those in healthy people.

When to See a Doctor for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, consult a gastroenterologist. Your doctor may record your medical history, perform a physical examination and other tests to check your condition. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome along with diarrhea, you will likely get a gluten intolerance test.

After that, your doctor may focus on diagnosing your condition by dividing the criteria of irritable bowel syndrome, such as: 

  • Type of IBS. Intended for treatment divided into three types based on the symptoms: dominant diarrhea, dominant constipation, or a combination of both. 
  • Rome Criteria. These criteria include abdominal pain that lasts once a week in the last three months.
  • Manning Criteria. This criteria focuses on the pain that gradually disappears after bowel movement.

Your doctor may suggest other tests to diagnose the causes of irritable bowel syndrome, such as sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and X-rays or CT scans to examine your intestine.

In addition, your doctor may also confirm other symptoms that may indicate the presence of a more serious medical condition. Possible symptoms include:

  • High fever.
  • Rectal bleeding 
  • Frequent diarrhea.
  • Nausea or continous vomiting.
  • Anemia due to iron deficiency.
  • Drastic weight loss.
  • Symptoms of irritable bowel disease appear after the age of 50. 
  • Abdominal pain

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary greatly. Here are the most common symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating that is relieved after bowel movement
  • Excess gas in the stomach.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or both.
  • Rectal bleeding

There are also more specific symptoms of irritable bowel based on gender, such as: 

  • Symptoms in men. The symptoms are almost similar to the symptoms in women, but the severity is lower and they rarely seek treatment. 
  • Symptoms in women. Symptoms tend to occur around the menstrual period or are more felt during the period. Menopausal women have fewer symptoms than women who are still menstruating. In some cases, women also experience certain symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome during pregnancy

Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Until now, there is no exact treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. However, you can reduce symptoms by implementing a healthy diet and taking medications. Below are some treatment methods for irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Medications. Your doctor will prescribe medications to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as anticholinergics, tricyclic antidepressants, antiseptics, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), probiotic supplements, fiber supplements, and painkillers.
  • Dietary plan. People with irritable bowel syndrome are strongly recommended to increase the consumption of healthy foods. You can set your diet plan based on the symptoms experienced.
  • Healthy lifestyle changes. Change bad habits with a healthy lifestyle to prevent recurrence of irritable bowel syndrome. Lifestyle changes that can be done include avoiding alcohol, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthy and fibrous foods, and undergoing psychotherapy to manage stress.

Treatment Cost for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Treatment cost for irritable bowel syndrome depends on the level of symptoms felt, the series of tests required, the hospital choice, and the specialist doctor. 

To find out the estimated treatment cost for irritable bowel syndrome at home and abroad, contact Smarter health

Prevention of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

You can take some preventive measures to prevent irritable bowel syndrome, such as:

  • Counseling. Counseling can help you change how you react to stress. Pychotherapy can significantly reduce your symptoms.
  • Exercise to reduce stress. This stress-reducing technique really helps you to focus easily by letting go of the worries and distractions that shackle your mind.
  • Progressive relaxation exercises. These exercises can help you relax the muscles of the body. Start by tightening the stiff muscles, then release all the tension slowly. Then, tighten and loosen your calf muscles. Continue to do this on all your body muscles, including your eye and scalp muscles. 

Home Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

There are home remedies that can help with your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate the symptoms of IBS without medications. Examples of lifestyle changes include:

  • Reduce your meal portions
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce and avoid the causes of stress.
  • Avoid eating fried or spicy foods.
  • Take probiotics to relieve gas and bloating.
  • Reduce drinking caffeinated beverages that stimulate the intestines.

Have more questions about irritable bowel syndrome? Write them down in the comment section below or contact Smarter Health.

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