The exact cause is unknown, but it’s believed to be brought on by a disruption to the interaction between brain, nervous system and gut.
Environmental factors such as changes of routine, emotional stress, infection and diet can trigger an attack.
IBS can’t be cured, but its often crippling impact on a person’s life can be minimalised with the right treatment, diet and exercise program.
In support of the international IBS Awareness Month of April, here are five signs that you could be a sufferer, and some steps you can take to take to alleviate the condition.
Most IBS sufferers complain frequently of having constipation. It is typically one of the first symptoms they experience before being properly diagnosed. Try to write down your patterns of constipation to review with your doctor.
- Stomach pain
The pain, or cramping, can last for hours or days. Sometimes just sitting down and drinking water can start to ease the discomfort, as flushing your system out is the step to good digestive health.
When you’re dealing with constipation, or diarrhoea, on a regular basis, you no doubt have bloating as a symptom as well. Women tend to get it worse, mostly due to hormonal changes, making it imperative to control you water intake and not consume too much salt.
- Incomplete bowel movements
IBS is notorious for causing sufferers incomplete bowel movements. This is when you struggle to have a full movement, or have blood in your stools.
- Gas pains
It’s one of the most embarrassing side-effects for all IBS sufferers. The gas pains are generally due to having to make a bowel movement, or the beginning of a diarrhoea episode.
- Diet overhaul
It is thought a modest increase in dietary fibre can help sufferers, together with plenty of clear fluids to flush the system out. Eliminating gas producing foods, such as beans and cabbage, also gives IBS sufferers relief. A group of carbohydrates called FODMAP is also now believed to contribute strongly to symptoms of IBS. A low-FODMAP diet can be tried in these instances. This diet can be commenced with the supervision of a dietician experienced in management of IBS.
- Stress relief
If stress seems to trigger attacks, take a look at your lifestyle and the steps you can take to ease the pressure. Scheduling time for a yoga class or a walk can make a huge positive impact on your health.
- Pain relief
Opiates such as codeine can provide effective pain relief. Antispasmodic drugs which may ease cramping, are also recommended – examples include mebeverine, belladonna, hyoscine and peppermint oil capsules.