Sometimes we all need to see a doctor. Our gut health can go through peaks and troughs which lead to discomfort, often in the lower abdominal area – the problem is often IBS. If you do have any issues relating to your gut, and you do not want to visit your doctor in person, due to the pandemic, you can look at a Simple Online Doctor.
It should be emphasized that IBS is not dangerous and does not imply a serious illness. However, in many cases the symptoms impair the quality of life and make it difficult to function on a daily basis. In most cases, the syndrome is treated through a combination of measures: adjusting the right diet, regular exercise, reducing stressors in daily life and, if necessary, providing medication to relieve the symptoms. It is estimated that between 5% and 25% of the adult population in the world suffer from irritable bowel symptoms. Women suffer from the syndrome three times more than men.
What causes irritable bowel syndrome?
The cause of the development of the syndrome is unknown, but there are some hypotheses about its causes. The leading hypotheses are changes in the activity pattern of the intestinal wall muscles, poor communication between the central nervous system and the digestive nerves and even hormonal changes that can affect intestinal function. Other common causes for the development of symptoms include a change in the composition of the “good” bacteria in the colon – a change that can occur after antibiotic treatment or after a transient infection in the gastrointestinal tract. The genetic link is not unequivocal, but it does exist in some cases. The risk of suffering from the syndrome seems to increase slightly if there are relatives who suffer from it – such as a parent etc.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are varied and can appear together or separately. Symptoms have a tendency to worsen during periods of physical and mental stress. The main symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- A combination of diarrhea and constipation
How long does it last?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition characterized by prolonged periods of time in which one suffers from the symptoms, but also by significant periods that are characterized by quietness and absence of symptoms. Treatments can be given, thus significantly relieving the symptoms and even being free of them for extended periods however there is no real ‘cure’ and the symptoms are often only managed.
How is it diagnosed?
Irritable bowel syndrome is mainly diagnosed according to the description of the symptoms that the patient submits to the doctor and based on a physical examination. Reporting typical symptoms is usually sufficient to diagnose the syndrome almost certainly. However, the doctor is sometimes assisted by some additional tests such as blood and stool tests. When other things are ruled out such as bowel cancer, they will seek to assist you with your diet and look for ways to remove any uncomfortable cramps that arise. In some cases the doctor may instruct the patient to perform an endoscopic examination of the gastrointestinal tract (gastroscopy and colonoscopy) to rule out the existence of inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer or to determine the source of anemia (iron deficiency).
In other cases, the doctor will instruct you to perform a blood test for celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) and breath tests to diagnose intolerance to certain sugars found in fruits (fructose) or various dairy products (lactose). Sometimes what we eat is the culprit and most usually stress is a huge factor.
How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?
Because the cause of the syndrome is unknown, treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms rather than curing them. It is advisable to maintain orderly and nutritious meals at regular times throughout the day, maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise, weight loss (if you are overweight), ensuring adequate water drinking and reducing stress in daily life as much as possible. From accumulated experience, it is known that there are various techniques that are effective in reducing stress such as regular exercise, yoga, meditation and even psychotherapy. In addition, treatments from the field of complementary medicine can be used but it is best that you manage them without self-medicating unless your doctor absolutely insists.
Thankfully though, irritable bowel syndrome is primarily a functional disorder and not an inflammatory disease or malignant disease. The symptoms are due to a dysfunction of one of the intestinal mechanisms, so in the vast majority of cases there are no significant complications during life (such as surgery, biological treatments or malignant treatments). You should consider looking at ways to effectively treat the problem without it hindering your life and seek help from a professional when needed.