IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a name given to a group of symptoms (a syndrome) affecting the digestive tract. sleep apnea pillow It is a disorder in which the intestinal tract does not work in an orderly fashion and is diagnosed after other diseases have been ruled out. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating and often diarrhea or constipation. Other names are irritable colon, spastic colon and “nervous stomach.” IBS is one of the most common digestive disorders and affects some 22 million Americans. For unknown reasons IBS affects about twice as many women as men and begins most commonly in young adulthood, sometimes in adolescence. IBS is NOT life threatening and seldom leads to complications or cancer.
IBS is a real disorder in which the intestine is overly sensitive to various stimuli such as foods, drugs (caffeine, tobacco, alcohol) and is influenced by your emotions and tension.
What are symptoms of Irritable BowelSyndrome?
Abdominal pain: IBS symptoms are primarily located in the abdomen. The most common symptom is pain, typically in the lower left side of the abdomen. Other pain may be felt as heart burn or indigestion.
Bloating and gas distention are very common. The symptoms are caused by spasm of the muscle fibers in the wall of the large intestine (the colon) and usually worsen after eating. The pain, which may be dull or sharp, steady or cramp-like, is sometimes relieved by the passage of gas or a bowel movement.
Constipation and diarrhea:
Constipation, caused by lack of fiber and water in the diet and a spasm in the wall of the colon, interferes with the passage of waste products through the intestine and results in delay and narrowing of the stool. Diarrhea is caused when a different set of muscle fibers in the wall of the large intestine contracts causing the stool to pass through the bowel too rapidly. Diarrhea typically occurs immediately after a meal or upon rising in the morning and is accompanied by a strong urge to defecate.
Abdominal distention (bloating):
The sensation of abdominal bloating may be caused by the actual presence of excess gas in the intestine. It may also be the result of spasm of the muscle fibers in the wall of the intestine compressing normal amounts of gas within the intestine so that it feels as if there were a large amount of gas. Sometimes an excess amount of gas actually forms a gas bubble in the left upper portion of the abdomen where the large intestine makes a sharp turn. The bubble can increase pressure on surrounding tissues, often causing pain in the left side of the chest.
Mucus in the stool:
Mucus normally occurs in stools in small amounts. In IBS mucus may increase and coat part or all of the stool. IBS rarely causes blood in the stool; if any blood or tarry stools are present, consult your medical provider.
Heartburn is due to the regurgitation of stomach contents into the lower esophagus and is incidental to abdominal tension and discomfort.
Usually this is induced by an individual in an attempt to relieve gaseousness (bloating) originating in the intestinal tract. Belching does not relieve gaseousness of the intestinal tract and belching often becomes worse as a response to swallowed air.
Many people with IBS have some degree of emotional upset or stress. Talking to your health care provider about life experiences that are troubling can help break the cycle of emotional upset physical discomfort emotional upset that characterizes IBS.
Can IBS be Prevented?
The following are general guidelines for prevention of the symptoms of IBS. Please discuss these guidelines with a health care provider or registered dietitian (available to IU students at the IU Health Center, Health and Wellness Education, 855-7338).
Each of us reacts differently to various foods. It is not just spicy or fatty foods that can irritate the bowel, sometimes it can be milk or certain high fiber foods (like beans or cabbage). Each person needs to be aware of their own sensitivities. Following are some guidelines which may be helpful in exploring your own individual sensitivities. Many experts believe foods should only be avoided if they can be linked to symptoms.
Certain foods have been known to stimulate stomach acids and cause discomfort.
caffeine (coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, cocoa)
acidic fruit juices (citrus, grape, pineapple, tomato, apples, cherries,pears)
greasy fried foods and excessively fatty foods (fast foods, sausage, cold cuts,etc.)
gravies that are rich and greasy (remove fat from gravies) smoked, corned, spiced, processed meats (i.e. hot dogs, luncheon meats,corned beef, etc.)
hot, spicy foods-particularly seasoned with black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, chili powder, hot sauces, onion, garlic,mustard, chili, barbecue sauce,horseradish, catsup, tomato sauce, vinegar,pickles
meat extracts (i.e. bouillon, etc.)
Some persons have an enzyme deficiency and cannot drink milk or eat some milk products. Could you have a milk intolerance? This is a different problem than IBS but causes similar symptoms.
Some persons find these vegetables are gas forming: dried peas and beans, lentils, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, corn, green peas, nuts, raw vegetables.
Other suggestions that may help include:
Eat slowly in a relaxed environment.
Allow at least 20 minutes per meal.
Chew food well and relax before and after eating in an upright position.
Establish regular eating habits-eat at regular time intervals daily, at least three times per day.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Many individuals do best if they eat six times a day (three small meals and three snacks). This helps prevent gastric distention and reduces gastric acidity.
Do not overload, especially late at night. Eat evening meals at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Reduce if overweight-attain and maintain your recommended weight.
Consume food and beverages at room temperature, rather than extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Eat high fiber foods as tolerated. These include: raw fruits and vegetable (with peels, seeds), whole-grain breads and cereals, brown or wild rice, seeds, nuts, coconut, kernels (popcorn, corn, beans, peas).
Over-the-counter high fiber supplements like Metamucil or Citrucel used regularly may be useful.
Drink plenty of fluids 6 to 8 glasses per day (at least � should be water).
Exercise aerobically 3-5 days a week.
Learn some relaxation techniques and/or some tension relieving activities.
Some abdominal pains may be relieved by applying a hot-water bottle, heating pad or taking a hot bath. (Avoid falling asleep with a heating pad as severe burns could result.) REMEMBER-anxiety, worry, and insufficient sleep can affect digestion, too!
What medical treatment is available forIBS?
A number of medications are available to help correct bowel function and/or relieve bowel spasms and abdominal pain. Prescription drugs may be used to relieve severe constipation; other medications are prescribed for severe or prolonged diarrhea, and antispasmodic agents to relieve intestinal cramps.
Because IBS can be recurrent, it is important to review the “general guidelines” offered in this pamphlet and learn what you need to do to feel better. Much of the prevention and treatment of IBS involves changing some daily habits and developing a new, healthier routine. Eating better (and perhaps more often), exercising regularly, finding ways to avoid stress, quitting smoking, and getting enough rest will not only help you deal better with IBS but will improve your general health and well-being.