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IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This condition may sound minor, but it can drastically change a person’s life. IBS affects the colon as a functional disorder, which means it does not cause damage to the rest of the digestive tract. IBS may not damage other organs, but the condition will still lead to some major life changes.
IBS symptoms typically include abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. These symptoms mean that nerve endings in the lining of the bowel have become irritated and overly sensitive, causing spasms and unusual activity in the colon. Many problems can cause irritation and inflammation, including a high-fat diet, high-stress life, or lack of exercise.
Changes to diet can help reduce the severity of IBS symptoms. Foods like caffeine in coffee or tea, oil or fat in fried foods, and alcohol can all cause more inflammation, leading to a return of IBS symptoms. Eating too much, too quickly, or waiting a long time between meals can change pH in the digestive system, putting stress on the bowel. IBS symptoms can also be aggravated by depression, trauma, or stress. However, it is important to understand that mental health conditions do not cause IBS.
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Because symptoms of IBS can vary among different people, it is important to find a doctor to diagnose the condition. A doctor can rule out other medical conditions, and perform tests which can help diagnose IBS. These tests may include an x-ray of the lower GI tract and small bowel, a parasite stool culture, or a colonoscopy. Although there is no cure for IBS, you and your doctor work together to find new ways to manage symptoms.
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Changing diet and lifestyle habits is the first, and often best, way to manage IBS symptoms. Managing stress is also important, so get a full night’s sleep, develop a daily exercise routine, and, if necessary, find a counselor or therapist to manage anxiety, trauma, or other mental health concerns. Prescription medications are available to alleviate some symptoms, if diet and lifestyle changes do not help enough. A prescription laxative can help reduce constipation from IBS. Loperamide can reduce diarrhea, if that is the primary symptom. A prescribed anti-spasmodic medication can reduce involuntary muscle spasms in the colon. This class of drugs helps reduce abdominal pain and cramps. Not only can they reduce pain during the day, but they help the person sleep better. You will sleep better with less pain and bathroom urgency. Since IBS symptoms can be triggered by sleep deprivation, this can be very important! Go here for more info about IBS symptoms and treatment options. You can click here to read more about how other people manage IBS successfully. We offer more information so you can get the IBS help you need.