What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Have you been diagnosed with IBS? The first thing you should know is that it is a relatively common disorder and by making a few simple changes to your lifestyle you can get on top of things. IBS is a collection of symptoms caused by your bowels (lower intestinal tract) not functioning smoothly. Unfortunately, no one knows for sure what causes IBS but it is known that certain factors makes IBS worse and these factors should be carefully monitored.
Abdominal pain is common, altered bowel habits and constipation and/or diarrhoea can also be present. Feeling bloated and suffering from gas can sometimes also affect IBS sufferers. Diarrhoea is caused by too rapid movement of food through the bowels, with very little water being removed; constipation is the result of slow movement with too much water being removed.
What Makes IBS Worse
Stress seems to make IBS worse. This may be specific stress related to a specific event or ongoing daily stress that wears you down. Any disruption to normal sleeping and eating patterns can cause a worsening of IBS. Certain foods can also affect IBS.
What Causes Pain?
In a normal intestine, the smooth muscle in the walls of the intestine function in a 'wave'-like fashion, moving food down the digestive tract. In IBS this normal movement is altered and the muscles function irregularly and uncoordinatedly. These spasms cause the pain associated with IBS.
How Can I Alleviate IBS Symptoms
Any changes to your diet and lifestyle should be made following advice from a physician and/or a nutritionist. The following lists small lifestyle changes that can help you reduce the symptoms caused by IBS:
- Eat regular meals - chewing foods thoroughly helps.
- Drink plenty of fluids - water, milk, fruit and vegetable juices.
- Exercise daily - exercise helps your digestion.
- Respond to the urge to move you bowels - delaying causes straining.
- Add more fibre to your diet.
Dietary fibre is undigested plant residue that passes through the digestive system. It helps by adding bulk to food, making it easier for the intestines to move through the system. Fibre also holds water and tends to soften stool. Nutritionists recommend that you have at least 35gms of fibre in your daily intake. For a list of foods and their relative dietary intakes, download the file below:
Fibre in Foods - fibre.doc (MS Word 6.0)
For more information see your physician.