IBS is a painful disorder that affects many people all over the world. Producing a variety of unpleasant symptoms, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome affects the large intestine – also known as the colon. Unfortunately, IBS will not just clear up on its own. It’s a chronic condition that patients will need to manage through the long term. But through a combination of dietary restrictions, lifestyle changes, and available treatment options, you can greatly improve your overall wellbeing. IBS symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the patient, but there’s always something that can be done. Read on to learn more about causes, symptoms and potential treatments.
Causes and Symptoms
The exact cause of IBS is virtually unknown but numerous factors are believed to play a role. For one, abnormalities in the nervous system can cause greater discomfort in the abdomen, especially when you need to use the bathroom. Sometimes muscle contractions can occur in the intestines as well as inflammation due to an overactive immune system. Severe infection and changes in gut bacteria may also cause IBS. Those with IBS will usually experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping and bloating, as well as excess gas. Often, they may also experience constipation and diarrhea – problems that can become a bigger problem if not resolved. Another sign is mucous in the stool. These symptoms should not be ignored.
One of the best ways to treat IBS is through dietary restrictions. Many foods are well-known to exacerbate IBS symptoms and should be avoided at all cost. Foods such as chocolate, fried foods, and sugary foods can all make diarrhea worse for people with IBS which can lead to dehydration. Likewise, caffeine and alcohol should be avoided. While foods high in fiber can prevent constipation, you don’t want to have too much, or you will experience gas and bloating. The best thing you can do is drink plenty of water as it helps move food through your digestive system a lot faster.
As mentioned earlier, diarrhea is important to treat because it can easily lead to dehydration which can be potentially fatal if untreated. Some doctors will recommend medications like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium to treat diarrhea. These medications won’t be able to treat pain, however, but gas medications such as Gas-X can provide gas relief. Never take medications for too long without a doctor’s recommendation.
If you need something to take the edge off your belly pain, muscle relaxers may be able to help in some cases. Doctors may prescribe you muscle relaxers like Levsin or Bentyl if you have muscle spasms that are producing belly pain. While there’s not a whole lot of evidence that muscle relaxers are effective for everyone, the doctor may think it’s worth a try. Other options for belly pain include antidepressants. It can prevent belly pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. Low doses of medications like Aventyl, Celexa, and Tofranil may all be able to help.
If you have IBS, your life is not over. With the proper dietary restrictions and medicinal options available, you can live a relatively normal life with reduced pain and discomfort. While there is no cure for IBS, the symptoms are manageable. Ask your doctor what you can do for your IBS today.