Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a common disorder of the gastrointestinal system associated with chronic and recurring abdominal pain, often accompanied by diarrhea or constipation. It is estimated to affect from 10-25% of the population. The wide range is largely because many people who have IBS symptoms don’t see a doctor and, therefore, are not properly diagnosed.
Syndrome vs Disease
When tests are conducted on people with IBS, the results will show that the digestive organs should be working fine – there is no structural or biochemical reason for the pain. So in cases like this when no problems appear to be present, a condition is called a “syndrome” rather than a “disease.”
Different foods affect each individual differently; however, gas forming foods, like cabbage and beans, are known to aggravate IBS symptoms for a lot people. The key is to pay attention to your food and take note of any foods that seem to bother you.
Most cases of IBS are undeniably worse with stress. So not surprisingly, stress reducing practices, like meditation and bio-feedback, are known to be quite effective at decreasing IBS severity.
The best way to know is to see a doctor. Don’t trust your own diagnostic or treatment skills to make this diagnosis; your doctor will be able to distinguish between IBS and other conditions that look a lot like IBS and give you a solution fit for your life!
Your Doctor’s Visit
Here is some useful information to gather or consider to help your doctor come up with a plan to works for you.
- Foods that make your symptoms worse
- Any over-the-counter medications or products that you have tried and how they helped or aggravated the condition
- How much change you are ready for and willing to implement in your diet and/or lifestyle. Changes can be as simple as taking an herb daily or as difficult as changing your entire diet. Know your boundaries so that your doctor can make a plan that will work for you instead overwhelm you.
If you think you have IBS, there is hope. There are ways to help manage IBS using safe, natural products and life-style intervention. But the first step… see your doctor!