Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I felt this was a necessary topic to talk about today since I’m sitting here in pain right now with a terrible stomach ache. I have been dealing with Irritable bowel syndrome since i was 16 years old and I am now 21. I forget what it’s like to have a normal stomach and not go every single day worrying about what will trigger an attack. It has been getting worse and I am in pain everyday, especially every morning and night. Some days are worse than others, but the pain never goes away. I have tried 3 different medications and cutting out certain foods to try to make my symptoms calm down, but nothing seems to work. It interrupts my social life and school work and makes me so worn out to the point where I always want to sleep. I am tired of living in pain and want to find a treatment for everyone suffering out there with IBS. I would also like to be tested to make sure I don’t have something else wrong with me. For those of you out there with IBS I feel your pain, and for those of you who don’t know what IBS is or want to know more about it, read on…

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that interferes with normal functions of the colon. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, bloating, and either constipation or diarrhea. It is one of the most common medical diagnoses, where 20% of the US population is diagnosed with it. Three times more women than men are diagnosed with IBS. It usually appears during early adulthood.

IBS shows no sign of disease that can be observed or measured. It appears that the colon is more sensitive to physiologic or emotional stress in people with IBS than in healthy people. Some researchers believe that the problem comes from conflicting messages between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system. The immune system may also trigger symptoms of IBS. Simply, with IBS normal movement of the colon appears to be disrupted. In some people with IBS, food moves too quickly through the colon and fluid can’t be absorbed fast enough causing diarrhea. However in other people with IBS, the movement of the colon is too slow and too much fluid is absorbed causing constipation.

Some foods that may be linked to physiologic stress and IBS are caffeinated drinks– like tea coffee and soda, foods such as chocolate, alcohol, dairy products, and wheat, and also consuming large meals.

Also, some women with IBS find that their symptoms worsen during menstrual periods which indicates a possible link between reproductive hormones and IBS. Medications may also increase the risk.

Stress—feeling mentally or emotionally tense, troubled, angry, or overwhelmed—can stimulate colon spasms in people with IBS. The colon has many nerves that connect it to the brain. Like the heart and the lungs, the colon is partly controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which responds to stress. In people with IBS, the colon can be overly responsive to even slight conflict or stress. Stress makes the mind more aware of the sensations that arise in the colon, making the person perceive these sensations as unpleasant.

IBS is sometimes thought to be overdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Some physicians agree that IBS doesn’t qualify as a disease, pointing out the stresses of everyday life have always led to digestive problems. Other researchers argue that US physicians often apply the diagnoses of IBS before screening for more serious disorders.

If you think you have IBS, it’s important to have a complete physical examination to rule out any other health problems including celiac disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBS but treatment options for symptoms include certain medications to treat diarrhea or constipation, stress management, regular physical activity, eating smaller meals, avoiding foods that make symptoms worse and eating a high fiber diet along with six to eight glasses of water a day are important. Severe IBS can be disabling and prevent people from leading normal lives which is why diagnosis and treatment are critical.

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