IBS – reducing your symptoms may just be possible...
What is IBS? Well, nobody knows the exact cause of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but it is a common condition of the digestive system, which is not classified as a disease (as you probably know if you are reading this article). Estimates suggest that up to 20% of the population can have IBS at any time.
According to the ibsnetwork, typical symptoms of IBS include:
- abdominal pain and cramping – often relieved by emptying your bowels
- a change in your bowel habits – such as diarrhoea, constipation or sometimes both
- bloating and swelling of your abdomen
- excessive wind (flatulence)
- an urgent need to go to the toilet
- a feeling that you need to open your bowels even if you have just been to the toilet
- a feeling you have not fully emptied your bowels
- passing mucus from your bottom.
There is no cure for IBS, but the symptoms can often be managed by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Exclusion diets, such as FODMAP which involves restricting certain foods that are highly fermentable in the large intestine, have shown to be highly effective for some people, although it is quite a complex diet to follow without specialist help.
Of course, there may be other reasons why you have IBS symptoms relating to diet or behavioural habits (i.e. the amount of stress we are under and crucially, how you respond to stress). Other suspects or triggers include bacterial, parasitic or viral infections, antibiotics, lactose intolerance and wheat. So, you can see that it is difficult to know what may have triggered your IBS, but not impossible to find your triggers or to manage your symptoms through dietary or lifestyle changes, with the appropriate advice.
According to research presented earlier this year at the Academy for Paediatric Gastroenterology, as many as 1 in 10 people who suffer with IBS have an underlying condition called coeliac disease. This is an intolerance to gluten containing grains. So, if you haven’t already been tested for this condition, you could ask your GP to arrange this for you; or if you prefer, you could arrange for a private test. It is important though that you do not stop eating gluten-containing grains before this test, as you need to be producing antibodies against gluten in order for this test to work.
Research has shown that certain supplements may also help with IBS symptoms, such as Peppermint oil, certain strains of probiotics and certain types of fibre, such as Psyllium.
For further advice pertaining to managing IBS, please refer to: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Irritable-bowel-syndrome/Pages/Treatment.aspx or seek professional advice from a trained nutritionist or dietician.
Please note - if you have been diagnosed or suspect you may have IBS, you should consult your GP for advice, diagnosis and treatment and always inform your health professional before starting any alternative or additional therapies, treatments or making any major changes in your diet or exercise programme.
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