Be Mindful About Symptoms and Treatments
Since 1997, the month of April has been designated as IBS Awareness Month because many people are not cognizant that this is even a medical disorder and one that can be effectively treated to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for sufferers. IBS refers to the intestinal medical disorder Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
IBS is actually a quite common disorder; yet many people are unaware that their symptoms indicate a medical problem and they go undiagnosed and without treatment even though IBS can have a major impact on those living with the disease. Lack of awareness of IBS may impact medical treatment and care. IBS occurs in men, women and children of all ages.
According to Nancy Norton, president and founder of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), "IBS is the most common diagnosis made by gastroenterologists and one of the most common disorders seen by primary care doctors. Yet a vast number of people who suffer from IBS may not be getting the medical care they need."
Nancy Norton also stated that "The human impact of IBS is tremendous. Chronic and recurring symptoms of IBS can disrupt personal and professional activities, upset emotional well-being and limit individual potential. … It is imperative that the best ways to manage and treat this disease are made available to patients so they can enjoy a normal, healthy life."
The initial step to effective diagnosis and treatment commences with awareness, education, knowledge and understanding regarding IBS.
What Is IBS?
As defined by NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), IBS basically "is a common disorder of the intestines that leads to crampy pain, gassiness, bloating, and changes in bowel habits."
A more comprehensive definition of IBS according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc. “sometimes referred to as spastic colon, mucous colitis, spastic colitis, nervous stomach or irritable colon, IBS is a disturbance of colonic function characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating and abnormal bowel function, resulting in episodes of chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, or both in alternation. Discomfort and bloating are often relieved by defecation.”
IBS is classified as a functional disorder because there is no sign of disease on diagnostic tests and when the colon is examined, but the bowel doesn't work as it should.
The symptoms of IBS can vary to a great extent from person to person. IBS is characterized by at least 12 weeks out of a 12-month period of abdominal pain or discomfort, usually in the lower abdomen (although the location and intensity vary, even at different times within the same person), and a change in bowel patterns such as chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or an alternate of both. Symptoms may occur over a single long period or in several shorter stints.
The symptoms of IBS can include:
- Mucous in the stool
- Full sensation after even a small meal
- Crampy pain
- Changes in bowel habits
What Causes IBS?
The cause of IBS is not yet entirely understood and it is a complex disorder. Symptoms seem to result from a disturbance in the interaction between the gut, brain, and nervous system that changes the regulation of bowel reflexes and function. The nerve endings in the lining of the bowel are highly sensitive and the nerves that control the muscles of the gut are especially active. The end result is that the bowel is overly responsive to typically normal events such as eating or the passage of fluid and gas along its stretch. These actions to inappropriate muscular activity may temporarily stop a bowel movement, or culminate in badly timed attempts to evacuate matter from the bowel.
IBS is not caused by stress as many people assume. It is also not a psychiatric or psychological disorder. Due to the link between the brain and gut, symptoms in certain people can be aggravated and set off by any kind of stress.
According to Dr. Natasha Turner, ND, Vice President of Natural Medicine- from a naturopathic viewpoint the symptoms of IBS may be related to five key areas:
1. Food allergies - The most common food allergies are wheat, dairy, citrus, soy, gluten (the protein in rye, wheat and oats), corn and soy. Avoid all of the previous mentioned foods for a period of time of about two to three weeks. Then re-introduce one new food every couple of days. See if symptoms return or there is a negative reaction when re-introducing a food. Alcohol, coffee, tea and smoking can also be stimulants to the bowel and should be avoided.
2. Deficiency of enzymes - Enzymes are present in saliva and are released from the pancreas to assist in breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Stomach acid works to help break down foods.
3. Improper bacterial balance - If you have taken antibiotics previously, tend to overeat carbohydrates or take corticosteroids, you may have yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract and need to kill off bad bacteria in order regain healthy bacterial levels in the digestive tract.
4. Stress - Anxiety, depression and stress tend to be associated with IBS. Feeling down may happen due to upsetting bowel symptoms, but may also suddenly occur and aggravate the problems. IBS symptoms may also increase stress because of fears that a person has a serious disease.
5. Irritation of the digestive tract wall - If there is an imbalance of any of the above listed items, the digestive tract walls may become irritated and very sensitive and need to be healed and soothed.
Facts about Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and altered bowel habit (chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or both in alternation).
- Approximately 60 to 65% of IBS sufferers are female; 35 to 40% are male. IBS affects people of all ages, even children.
- The exact cause of IBS is not known. Symptoms appear to result from a disturbance in the interaction between the gut, brain, and nervous system that alters regulation of bowel motor or sensory function. IBS is not caused by stress. However, because of the connection between the brain and the gut, symptoms can be exacerbated or triggered by stress.
- The impact of IBS can range from mild inconvenience to severe debilitation, controlling many aspects of one's emotional, social and professional life. Those with moderate to severe cases, affecting an estimated 10 to 15 million people, must struggle to overcome symptoms that often impair their physical, emotional, economic, educational and social well-being.
- IBS is unpredictable. Symptoms vary and are sometimes contradictory, such as diarrhea alternating with constipation. Chronic and recurrent symptoms can disrupt personal and professional activities, upset emotional well-being and limit individual potential.
- Treatments are available for IBS to help manage symptoms.
- Although IBS is very common in the general population, few seek medical care for their symptoms. On average, patients report it takes more than three years from onset to diagnosis, and see nearly three healthcare professionals before their condition is diagnosed as IBS.
- Approximately 20 to 40% of all visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms.
- For those with IBS an additional burden comes from living in a society where the word "bowel" may scarcely be spoken. Individuals are left to cope with multiple symptoms that affect every aspect of their lives while those around them may be unaware of the true impact, or even the existence, of the disorder.
- IBS can only be diagnosed by a medical professional.
Facts provide courtesy of International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc.
Most importantly, remember, treatment options are available to manage IBS and live a good quality of life—whether symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe. The most common treatments for IBS include dietary changes, stress relief, and medication. Many people look to alternative medicine for solutions as well. Native Remedies has many effective, 100% natural remedies available for you to treat, manage and relieve IBS and digestive and stomach disorder symptoms and for the other interrelated conditions such as anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, Candida and yeast infections, and sleep problems. These include:
- DigestAssist to quickly put an end to symptoms of heartburn, nausea, gas, indigestion, acid reflux and cramps. Ideal partner to Gastronic Dr.
- Gastronic Dr. for digestive tract and as a preventative for flare ups of stomach and digestive disorders such as IBS, Crohn's Disease, Gastritis, Acid Reflux (GERD), Ulcerative Colitis and Diverticulosis. Improves digestive health and reduces and prevents digestive disorders.
- Triple Complex Digestion Tonic promotes healthy digestion by anyone with digestive disorders and complaints. The perfect companion to DigestAssist and Gastronic Dr. for people suffering from Crohn's Disease, IBS, chronic heartburn and gas, Diverticulosis, spastic colon and other digestive disorders.
- NEW Natural Moves to treat constipation naturally without the risk of dehydration, mineral imbalance and dependency.
- Fatigue Fighter – boost energy levels, fight fatigue and bring life back into your system
- JointEase – provides relief from painful joint conditions, arthritis, lower back ache and fibrositis
- Serenite – helps with insomnia, sleep problems and disorders an is non-addictive
- MindSoothe – relieves depression, anxiety and insomnia without side effects
- PureCalm – quicklyrelieves anxiety, panic attacks, stress and nervous tension
- Ikawe - optimizes male sexual functioning and boosts sexual performance, stamina and desire
- Thanda Passion Booster – helps achieve optimal female sexual health and vitality, and increases women’s libido
- Candidate – Relieves candidiasis, Candida and yeast infections