DISCLAIMER – I am NOT in any way a qualified health or nutrition professional – the information below is provided as just that, information. If you think you are suffering from from this condition, please seek medical / professional advice.
So, what is IBS, apart from a pain in the butt?
It seems that people with IBS have sensitive bowels that are easily ‘upset’ – (a slight understatement – but let’s keep this polite shall we).
Essentially, it is about all things poo & poo related.
Other terms for irritable bowel syndrome include ‘spastic colon’ and ‘irritable colon’.
Main IBS categories
- Constipation-predominant – the person tends to alternate constipation with normal stools. Symptoms of abdominal cramping or aching are commonly triggered by eating.
- Diarrhoea-predominant – the person tends to experience diarrhoea first thing in the morning or after eating. The need to go to the toilet is typically urgent and cannot be delayed. Incontinence may be a problem.
- Alternating constipation and diarrhoea.
Who suffers from IBS?
Around one in five Australians experiences the very unpleasant symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at some time.
More women than men are prone to IBS, and symptoms tend to first occur in early adulthood.
What causes IBS?
The underlying cause of irritable bowel syndrome is still unknown, but certain factors have been found to ‘trigger’ attacks in susceptible individuals. These include:
- Infection – an episode of gastroenteritis will often result in persistent bowel symptoms, long after the offending bacteria or virus has been eliminated. The cause of this is unknown, but may involve changes to nerve function in the bowel or changes in the normal bacterial population of the bowel. Up to 25% of IBS may be due to this problem.
- Food intolerance – impaired absorption of the sugar lactose (found in dairy and many processed foods) is the most common dietary trigger for IBS. Other sugars believed to trigger IBS are fructose (present in many syrups) and sorbitol.
- General diet – low fibre diets can exacerbate the constipation of constipation-predominant IBS. Some people find spicy or sugary foods cause problems. However, many experts are skeptical about the role of general diet, once specific food intolerances have been eliminated.
- Emotional stress – strong emotions, such as anxiety or stress, can affect the nerves of the bowel in susceptible people.
- Medications – certain drugs (such as antibiotics, antacids and painkillers)
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Common signs of IBS include:
- Abdominal pain or cramping that is often relieved by passing wind or faeces
- Alternating diarrhoea and constipation
- A sensation that the bowels are not fully emptied after passing a motion
- Abdominal bloating
- Mucus present in the stools
- Chronic hemorrhoids
Is IBS a chronic illness?
Yes, it is a chronic illness with many & varied signs, symptoms & treatments, however, IBS is not known to cause lasting damage and there is no evidence that it can contribute to the development of serious bowel conditions, such as cancer or colitis.
Information Source – Better Health Channel