Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition affecting the digestive system. People diagnosed with IBS usually have it for life and may experience a variety of symptoms, including constipation, diarrhea, bloating and cramps. These symptoms may last for anywhere from days to months at a time. The exact cause of IBS is as yet unknown and there is no cure, although there are certain measures that can be taken to help relieve symptoms.
Dr. Carolyn Dean co-authored the book ‘IBS for Dummies’, along with Christine Wheeler. The book is described as an informative, easy to follow and comprehensive overview of the condition, which even manages to be humorous at times.
Expert guidance is provided in IBS for Dummies for many conventional and alternative therapies, treatments and lifestyle changes that can help manage IBS.
There are various symptoms which may indicate a patient is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, some of which are named above. These include cramps or pain in the stomach, particularly immediately after defecating. Patients may also experience excessive flatulence, bowel incontinence, problems with emptying their bladder, passing mucus, backache, lack of energy and fatigue. Symptoms may come and go or alter in severity and can often be linked to eating or drinking certain things.
In the infographic attachment, you can see some statistics and facts about IBS among the population of the United States.
As stated above, there is no cure for IBS unless the condition is caused by food intolerance or yeast overgrowth, which Dr. Dean discusses in detail. There are various lifestyle changes and certain supplements that can help relieve the symptoms. Medications have a very poor track record in treating IBS. Plenty of exercise combined with finding time to relax can make a difference. Diet plays a key role in IBS, so eating healthy, home-cooked meals using fresh ingredients can be useful. People diagnosed with IBS may find their symptoms flare up less frequently when they avoid foods that are spicy, processed or fatty. Skipping meals can trigger a flare-up, as can eating too quickly. Too much fresh fruit can also be a trigger; IBS sufferers should not have more than three 80g portions daily. Too much tea, coffee, alcohol or fizzy drinks can also make symptoms worse. Probiotics might help; patients are advised to try them for a month to see if there is any noticeable difference. Maintaining a food diary can also help to identify all possible triggers and learn what to avoid.
Dr. Dean encourages people with IBS to learn to control their symptoms because she feels continued aggravation of the gut can lead to ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Eliminating Food Triggers
As certain types of food can be triggers for symptom flare-ups in IBS sufferers, learning which foods are triggers and cutting them out can be one of the most effective methods of controlling the condition. An elimination diet can be undertaken without medical assistance and may help patients to understand which foods are those that they should be avoiding.
Foods and drinks that have strong links with IBS symptoms include dairy, additives, processed foods, fruit, wheat, sugar, spices, fried food, diet products with aspartame, coffee and alcohol. Foods that are unlikely to cause symptom flare-ups include vegetables, fresh meat, fish or poultry, seeds and nuts, whole grains, unprocessed oils, herbal teas and water. More information about foods to eliminate and foods to include more in a healthy diet can be found in IBS for Dummies. Although Dr. Dean only recommends them for acute episodes, certain medicines may give short-term relief for the symptoms of IBS. You can find out what these are by watching the short video attachment.