Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as per a study by Researchgate, affects about 4.2% people in India. Some studies indicate that this figure might be closer to 8%. Although this number is lower than most countries, one peculiar thing about these researches claim is that men are equally likely to impacted by IBS. Most studies the world over place women at a much higher of IBS than men. Nonetheless, it is important to understand what is IBS, what are the symptoms IBS of IBS and how can it be cured.
What is IBS?
IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal ailments. As the name suggests, the digestive tract is "irritated" and hence reacts in different ways causing further impact or pain to the entire digestive system. This affect on the digestive tract is owing to the large intestines getting impacted while suffering from IBS.
What causes IBS?
- Muscle contractions
Whenever one eats food, it moves through the digestive tract by the contraction of muscles that line the intestine. Improper contractions, either too long or too short, affect the digestion and cause the symptoms of IBS (mentioned a little later)
Severe infections caused by either bacteria or virus in the stomach can lead to IBS. Also, excessive growth of bacteria can lead to IBS
- Poor nerve communication
IBS can also be caused when the communication between the brain and the digestive organs is improper. What this means is that the body will not be able to understand the digestive process and hence react in a way that can lead to the symptoms of IBS.
- Stress and abuse
Children, if subjected to physical or emotional abuse, are prone to develop IBS at a later stage in life. Stress is often a common trigger for IBS even amongst adults.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Many of the symptoms of IBS are common to other gut ailments. More of than not, the medical practitioner will arrive at the conclusion of one suffering from IBS after eliminating the other possibilities. The symptoms of IBS persist for longer or are more frequent than most other ailments. Somethings to look out for are:
- Abdominal pain
- Cramps in the stomach
- Changes in appearance of the stool - mucus might be found in the stool
- Changes in the schedule for bowel movement
- Unintentional weight loss
- Rectal bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
Who is more susceptible to IBS?
This is one ailment that usually affects people under the age of 50. So those in their teens to late forties are more susceptible to IBS. Also, if children are faced with anxiety and abuse, their chances of contracting IBS later in life are far higher.
Generally, the world over, women are twice are more likely to be affected by IBS than men.
Having a family history of IBS makes one more susceptible to IBS.
Can IBS be fatal? What are somethings that get affected when one suffers from IBS?
- A poor quality of life
With restrictions on food and continuous suffering from constipation or diarrhea can lead to having a poor quality of life. Also, with the cramps and pains, people suffering from IBS are more likely to take days off from work or remain in bed more often as compared to others.
- Mood disorders
Having IBS can lead to stress or anxiety. This can further worsen the condition of IBS and becomes a viscous circle.
How is IBS diagnosed?
- Rome criteria
This criteria is defined as one suffering from pain at least one a week for three months and has pain and discomfort related to defecation, frequency of bowel movements sees a change or the consistency of the stool sees a change.
The medical practitioner will pass a flexible tube through the colon to check for abnormalities.
- Upper endoscopy
The tube with a camera is inserted in the esophagus i.e. the pipe connecting the mouth and the stomach. This can lead to the practitioner identifying the cause of discomfort.
- X rays or CT scans
Usually, barium is used in these scans. One will have barium and the X rays and scans will see the path of the barium for anomalies and then identify the cause for them.
- Stool tests
Residual bacteria or virus in the stool might help in determining the cause of pains or discomfort in the stomach.
What is the treatment for IBS?
Basis the symptoms, the IBS can be classified as constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant or mixed. Modern medicine does not have a cure for IBS but depending on the type of IBS, prescribes steps that make the IBS manageable. Some lifestyle changes definitely help avoid triggers. Here are somethings that might not bode very well with a person suffering from IBS:
- High gas foods
- Foods with gluten
- Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs)
These restrictions are basis ones ability to digest certain kind of foods while others aggravating IBS symptoms. In addition to avoiding these things, one might also be advised the following:
- Having fibre rich foods or supplements
- Maintaining a journal to identify the trigger
- Laxatives in case of constipation dominant IBS
- Anti-diarrheal medications
- Anti-cholinergic medications
- Pain relieving medications
Apart from these the practitioners might also recommend a medication regime in cases of severe IBS that might include Alsetron or Lubiprostone (both typically used for women), Eluxadoline, Rifaximin or Linaclotide.
What does Ayurveda say about IBS? Is there a treatment for IBS in Ayurveda?
IBS is knows as Grahini is Ayurveda. The three types of IBS are known as Vataja Grahini (Contipation dominant - caused by the imbalance for Vata Dosha), Piitaja Grahini (Diarrhea dominant - caused by the imbalance of Pitta dosha) and Tridoshaja Grahini (Mixed - caused by the imbalance of all three doshas). Ayurveda, puts the cause of IBS at the weak digestive fire or Agni. Because of this, the digestion is improper resulting in Ama or toxins, causing IBS and various other gut related issues. Ayurveda suggests many home remedies, herbs and Panchkarma treatments for IBS depending on the type of IBS i.e. Vataja, Pittaja or Tridohaja.
At The Good Herbs as well, our ayurvedic medicine for constipation and overall gut health, Good 4 Gut, helps with improving the digestive fire and helps in immediate relief from the symptoms and curing IBS with continuous usage.
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