What is IBS and How to Treat It
Do you often suffer from abdominal pain resulting in cramps, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation? It may be a sign of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Consult with your nearest doctor immediately because chronic IBS takes a long time to go away. I waited for a few weeks before going to the doctor, and they were the most painful weeks of my life.
According to WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/digestive-diseases-irritable-bowel-syndrome#1), the symptoms of IBS include the following:
• Mucus in your stool.
• Constipation or diarrhea. Sometimes you may experience both on different days.
• Cramps in the lower belly. You will feel searing pain after your meals, but it will get better after you come back from the toilet.
• Bloating and abdominal pain.
Causes of IBS
At first, I didn’t know what is IBS, its symptoms or causes. I thought it was one of those stomach upsets that usually happen when I have too much oily food. But, the pain was unbearable after a few days. When I went to the doctor, he mentioned that it was a case of IBS.
Later, I went through the website of Mayo Clinic to research about the causes (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016):
• Inflammation of intestines
The doctor said my intestines had had a rapid growth of immune-system cells that caused diarrhea and pain.
• Muscle contraction in my intestine
Apart from the unbearable pain, I also had gas in my stomach. This was because of the muscle layers inside the walls of my intestine. Its contraction lasted long, and that caused the gas and diarrhea.
According to Healthline (https://www.healthline.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome#ibs-triggers), IBS can develop right after an episode of diarrhea. However, in my case, there was bacterial overgrowth, which is also another cause of IBS.
What triggers IBS
IBS doesn’t happen all of a sudden. You need to understand the symptoms to know what is IBS.
Food intolerance or allergy plays a vital role in IBS. Some dairy products, wheat, cabbage, carbonated drinks, and milk can trigger the symptoms.
Women suffer from IBS more than men, and hormonal changes contribute to this problem. Most women suffer from IBS around the time of their menstrual periods.
Stress not only causes IBS but also aggravates its condition severely. When I was having a hard time at the office, I frequently had to go to the toilet to take a dump, and it was either diarrhea or constipation.
As per the experts at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/treatment), your first step to deal with IBS should be lifestyle changes. This may include:
• Getting enough sleep.
• Leading a stress-free life as much as possible.
• Increasing your daily physical activities.
The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (https://www.aboutibs.org/what-is-ibs-sidenav/treatments-for-ibs.html) also suggests a combination of medicines such as anti-diarrheal agents, antispasmodics, anti-anxiety medications, and laxatives.
Apart from medication and lifestyle changes, I will also recommend a few changes in your diet. While suffering IBS myself, I read a lot about dietary factors in Medical News Today (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/37063.php ) that contribute to this problem. Here are a few things you can try:
1. Put more fiber in your diet
I was watching a video the other day about what is IBS and how to treat it with your diet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWetufYOhC4), and it mentioned all the things that my doctor told me. You need to include two types of fiber in your diet: insoluble fiber like vegetables and whole-grain products, and soluble fiber, like oat products, fruits, and beans. However, don’t have too much of fiber in one meal. That can cause gas. Try adding at least 3 grams of fiber to avoid bloating and gas.
2. Stay away from gluten
Gluten-free food should be the order of the day every day. Keep away from foods like rye, barley, and wheat. This will quicken your recovery from IBS. I always had milk and cereals in the morning. After my IBS episodes, I stayed away from cereals for months. Apart from cereals, my doctor also told me not to eat pasta, grains, or any processed food.
3. Follow a low-FODMAP diet
NPS MedicineWise (https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/treatment-of-irritable-bowel-syndrome) recommends you to follow a low-FODMAP diet that helps to reduce carbohydrate content in your food. Some of the foods that belong to the FODMAP chain are:
• Fruits including mango, pears, plums, blackberries, watermelon, apricots, apples, cherries, and pears.
• Any canned fruit or fruit juice.
• Foods containing high fructose corn syrup or honey.
• Vegetables including beans, cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms, onions, lentils, snow peas, garlic, asparagus, and sugar snap.
• Dairy products like ice-cream, custard, yogurt, soft cheese, milk, and milk products.
It is always wise to consult with your doctor before following the diet. He may add or exclude a few items depending on your condition.