Do I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition of the digestive system that causes abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation and/or bloating. It is a common and persisting illness that has no definite cause and no singularly effective treatment. Very often it can be described as abdominal uneasiness that cannot be diagnosed as any other disease. The occurrence of IBS differs from person to person. Studies advocate that the digestive system of a person with IBS is much more sensitive and susceptible to infection.

How is IBS Diagnosed?

IBS is diagnosed by the theory of exclusion. All the symptoms of the patient are taken into account and then the patient is tested for any other worrisome illnesses. Once all possible diseases are ruled out, the patient is then diagnosed with IBS. Studies suggest an inherent link between the brain and gut called the brain-gut axis. Three out of four people with IBS are found to have one or more incidents of depression or anxiety. So the onset of IBS in a person could be due to a traumatic life event that causes depression or due to a change in the psychological state of a person that interferes with the brain-gut communication.

How to Treat IBS Symptoms

Since there is no clear explanation of what causes IBS symptoms, there is no specific treatment. Over-the-counter medications are usually enough to treat diarrhea, bloating and constipation. Pain killers treat abdominal cramping and pain. When your symptoms are amplified and occur with more intensity, your quality of life is affected leading to anxiety and depression which again increases the severity of IBS symptoms. It is a circle of chain reactions that you might want to break out of, by following a series of diet and lifestyle changes. Suggested below are some tips that help to manage IBS:

  • Eat your meals every day at a pre-decided time regularly without skipping
  • Drink at least 1-1.5 liters of water every day. You can also keep yourself hydrated with fluids that do not contain alcohol, processed sugars or caffeine
  • If you have diarrhea then steer yourself clear of dairy products, citrus fruits and eggs. For more detailed advice, contact your primary care physician
  • To relieve constipation, include more fiber into your diet (like oats, bananas)and drink plenty of water
  • Try and eliminate processed/canned food as they might contain difficult-to-digest starch
  • Include thirty minutes of exercise into your routine as perspiration is an excellent way to detoxify the body
  • Consuming probiotic food which contains friendly bacteria can also help to regularize normal bowel movements
  • Incorporate stress-relieving techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and hobbies that help you to relax and reduce anxiety

How to Manage IBS

It is best to maintain a small notebook to document your diet and symptoms, chronologically. It not only helps to keep track of any changes in your symptoms, but also helps to explain to your doctor about the exact nature of your irritable bowel problem. Do not lose hope if you feel that you have IBS. Make the necessary lifestyle changes and consult your primary care physician for proper management of IBS symptoms.