Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, or spastic colon as my doctor referred to it, is a troublesome but not serious condition. It won’t turn into cancer, cause it or get worse. That’s good news. The bad news? Irritable Bowel Syndrome does make it’s presence know if you don’t take care of yourself. When? Usually during very stressful times in your life or after you’ve eaten certain foods that you will find out you really shouldn’t. if you’re a woman, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is worse right before or during your menstrual cycle. And more women are affected by IBS than men.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is caused by your intestines squeezing too hard or not hard enough to expel the foods you might have consumed. In other words, the food may be going through your system more quickly or too slowly than what it should. That’s when the symptoms start to rear their ugly head. The cramping, the intermittent diarrhea for a few days then constipation the next. The bloating and gassy feelings like you’ve eaten five bowls of beans in one sitting.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome generally start out with abdominal cramping or more cramping during your menstrual cycle if you’re a woman. You may experience more gas and bloating after eating certain types of foods. The biggest and most telling symptoms of all and one that will be quite noticeable is the change in your bowel habits and the mucous that is more often than not mixed in with your stool.
If you notice this happening you should make an appointment with your doctor to be sure that this is Irritable Bowel Syndrome and not something else that is more serious. The doctor will ask you how long the symptoms have been going on and possibly if there were a pattern to these episodes. Were you under more stress than usual while these symptoms were occurring? Had you eaten certain foods that had caused these problems before? If so, then you more than likely have IBS.
If the symptoms have just started happening your doctor might want to run some blood tests, do a colonoscopy or a rectal exam to check for the presence of blood. If these tests come back negative, ruling out the more serious conditions the doctor will work with you on ways to keep these flare-ups from happening.
The doctor will try to work with you on how to figure out which foods are causing the episodes. They might suggest that you keep a diary of the foods you eat. When you start feeling badly, you can look back and see what you have eaten to try to narrow down the cause of the pain. If you are lactose intolerant, it could be milk, cheese or some other form of dairy product. Fats and caffeine are also catalysts for Irritable Bowel Syndrome so try to stay away from chocolate, lots of fried foods and coffee or soda. However, don’t stop eating a certain food the first time you eat it and it causes a flare-up. If this certain food has upset your stomach more than once, then it’s a good idea to shy away from whatever you are eating.
Most doctors from the best clinics in your area also prefer that a person with Irritable Bowel Syndrome add more fiber to their diet. Why? Because soluble fibers helps stop both the diarrhea and constipation. Insoluble fiber which is in foods such as wheat bread or many vegetables helps with constipation. Also, try drinking lots of water. Eat six small meals a day instead of three larger ones.
Your doctor will also try to help you with your stress levels. Most of the time, relaxation techniques like meditation or exercise will help. If your stress is more severe, a doctor might suggest trying relaxants of some kind or anti-depression medicine if you are going through a very rough time and are feeling emotionally drained and depressed.
There is no cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but you can take over the counter medications such as Imodium AD for the diarrhea. Stay away from laxatives of any kind when constipated as they may weaken your intestines and make you dependent on them. If you are having lots of problems with constipation or diarrhea, your doctor will more than likely prescribe an antispasmodic medication that should help.
One of the worst things about having Irritable Bowel Syndrome besides the cramping and bloating is having your symptoms flare up at the worst possible times. During stressful situations such as when you have a loved one in the hospital or there is a death in the family. Irritable bowel syndrome can even make an appearance during typical daily happenings such as being stuck in traffic or traveling and having no bathroom in sight. But if you stay on a healthy diet, try to remain calm and stay away from any foods that might cause symptoms, you should have very few episodes and be able to live and function normally despite having Irritable Bowel Syndrome.