Everything You Want to Know About IBS – Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you will know that it is a complicated condition. It is a disease of the gut-brain axis.

However, you are not alone as around 1 in 10 people have IBS, making it quite a common problem (1 ). Symptoms vary in severity and type.

Irritable bowel syndrome

What Are the Signs of IBS?

You may find that you have digestive problems for other reasons that IBS. So, what are the typical signs that your symptoms may be IBS?

You must be experiencing abdominal pain at least 1 day a week for the past 3 months (2 ). This abdominal pain will be related to at least 2 of the following;

  • Opening your bowels
  • A change in stool frequency
  • A change in stool appearance

Please note that you should not self-diagnose. Instead, see your GP for these tests .

What Are the Symptoms of IBS?

Symptoms of IBS vary in severity and type. So, you may find your IBS is more severe or mild in comparison to others.

You will also notice that your own IBS symptoms can vary at times.

Common symptoms of IBS include (3 );

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Loose stools
  • Stomach pain
  • Excess gas

What Causes IBS?

You may be wondering what has caused your IBS in the first place. You may start realising that you have been putting up with these symptoms for a very long time.

It isn’t known exactly what causes IBS. The following issues are thought to be potential causes;

  • Stress (4 )
  • Infection (4 )
  • Being female (1 )
  • Food intolerances

Treatment For IBS

When you suffer with IBS it takes over your whole life. You will be keen to find a treatment to cure your symptoms.

Sadly, there are no IBS cures available. But there are ways to manage the condition.

Low FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet has been shown to have a 70% effective rate at managing IBS symptoms (5 ).

You firstly follow a diet low in F0DMAPs for 4-6 weeks. This controls your symptoms by avoiding fermentable carbohydrates.

After the initial reduction phase, you go on to the reintroduction process. This is a structured process which allows you to pinpoint your triggers and tolerance levels.

Probiotics

Probiotics have been shown to help manage IBS symptoms in multiple studies.

If you take a probiotic regularly you may find you have a reduction in IBS pain, flatulence and bloating. Probiotics can also help normalise stool patterns.

Just be careful to take a probiotic which has been proven to work in IBS. You can find this information here .

Psychological Treatments

It may not surprise you to find that IBS is linked to your mental wellbeing.

The following psychological interventions have been shown to help manage IBS;

Cognitive behavioural therapy (6 )
Clinical hypnotherapy (7 )
Mindfulness (8 )

Yoga

Yes, you read correctly!

Doing yoga twice a week has been shown to improve your symptoms as much as the low FODMAP diet (9 ).

Summary

IBS is a complicated condition with varying symptoms and severity.

Please do not feel alone in your IBS as it is a very common condition. There are many proven ways to manage the symptoms.

Always ensure you work with the correct professionals in your IBS management. Failure to do this can leave you more confused and even with an incorrect diagnosis.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22426087
  2. https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/clinical/new-rome-iv-diagnostic-criteria/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734736
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28069350
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28244668
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28819814
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25858661
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28860106
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29076171

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