IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
What causes IBS?
- The exact cause of IBS is not known.
- In some people it starts after a bout of gut infection, like diarrhea, probably due to the destruction of the good bacteria of the gut.
- It is also attributed to imbalance in the muscle co-ordination of the gut muscles
- Hormone issues can be a reason for some people
- An imbalance in the nervous system can cause this condition also
Who are the people more prone to getting IBS?
- Women under the age of 50 are more prone to develop IBS.
- Family history also plays a role
- A history of mental conditions like anxiety, physical, mental or sexual abuse.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
- IBS can commonly cause abdominal pain and bloating.
- It can also cause an altered bowel habit.
- Constipation can cause haemorrhoids in which there is bleeding in the stools
- Frequent bouts of diarrhea can cause an imbalance of electrolytes in the body.
- The stools can also change to ribbon like or watery.
How is IBS diagnosed?
- As there is no definitive test to diagnose IBS, your doctor might diagnose the condition by taking a detailed history of your condition, including triggers and lifestyle factors that might be playing a role.
- There might be tests conducted to rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms, including gluten intolerance, a stool test, sigmoidoscopy to see the interior of your intestine and CT scans.
How is IBS managed?
- Managing IBS needs the combined approach of drug therapy as well as lifestyle coaching and counselling.
- Counselling can help in stress management.
- Biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation are techniques also help in relaxing the body under the stress.
- The medical treatment of IBS depends on the type of symptoms you might be experiencing.
- Anti diarrhoeal medicines like loperamide can help in controlling diarrhea.
- Painful abdominal cramps can be reduced with medicines like dicyclomine. These can sometimes cause constipation and blurred vision, so please take the medicine exactly as advised by your doctor.
- For constipation, your doctor might advise laxatives like milk of magnesia.
- Sometimes, antidepressant medicines help in controlling the symptoms of IBS. Various anti-depressants like tricyclic anti-depressants (imipramine or nortriptyline) or SSRI antidepressants (Prozac or paxil) might be helpful. They sometimes cause drowsiness or blurred vision, so do take them as prescribed.
- Some medicines help to relax the colon. Alosetron is one such drug and is used for only women with severe diarrhea due to IBS.
- Rifaximin is an antibiotic that reduces bacterial overgrowth and controls diarrhea.
- Lubiprostone increases secretions in the intestine and is used for women with constipation.
What are the precautions that can prevent bouts of IBS?
Certain conditions can trigger bouts of IBS.
- Foods like dairy products, wheat, beans, cabbage and carbonated drinks can set off a bout of IBS in people prone to the condition.
- Women tend to find the symptoms worse at the time of their period.
- Stress can also be a trigger for a bout of IBS.
- Using stress controlling techniques including yoga and meditation can also help in controlling the bouts of IBS.
We advocate medical supervision prior to starting any treatment regime.