Managing IBS is a Pain in the Butt!

Share

This post was sponsored by IM HealthScience. 

What is IBS?

IBS is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder that involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel). Those affected by IBS may experience recurrent abdominal pain and irregular bowel patterns that are often painful. Symptoms are often chronic and intermittent and may last for months or years.

Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world with five million Canadians currently suffering. IBS affects significantly more women than men and is one of the most common causes for work and school absenteeism.

IBS is defined by the presence of:

Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort 1 days/month in the past 3 months associated with two or more of the following:

  • Increased defecation
  • Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool
  • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

So, who has IBS?

In Canada, IBS prevalence has been found to be 13.5% and 12.1% respectively. While IBS does not cause any permanent damage to the bowel or lead to cancer or any other major illnesses, living with IBS is painful, and puts a great deal of stress on people who suffer symptoms. The good news is, that even though IBS is a chronic and long term condition, it ismanageable over time. The symptoms of IBS typically do not get worse, and with an effective treatment plan, as many as one-third of IBS patients may eventually become symptom-free.

Often, symptoms alone can provide doctors with the information they need to diagnose IBS. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and take a complete medical history that includes a careful review of your symptoms. For this reason, it is important to be candid and specific with your doctor about the problems you are having. A set of specific symptom criteria (referred to by physicians as the Rome Criteria) has been developed to help physicians diagnose IBS. The Rome Criteria is as follows:

Rome Criteria

  • Symptoms for at least 3 days per month during the previous 3 months
  • Symptoms first started at least 6 months ago
  • Symptoms are improved with a bowel movement or associated with a change in the stools (number or appearance).

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, however, it is believed that IBS may be caused by one of several factors. In some patients, it may be linked to a prior infection or event which disrupts the normal functioning of the intestines. It is common for people to develop IBS following a gastrointestinal infection, food poisoning, traveller’s diarrhea, surgery, a change in diet or the use of antibiotics or new medications. In others, an imbalance of intestinal bacteria or a change in the body’s level of hormones, immune signaling in the bowel wall or neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) may also lead to the development of IBS.

Symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain (cramping)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowels
  • Whitish mucus (a fluid made in the intestines) within or around the stools
  • Motility (movement of contents through the intestines)
  • Sensitivity (how the brain interprets signals from the intestinal nerves)
  • Brain-gut dysfunction

I’ve been diagnosed with IBS.. now what?

If you’re anything like me and skipped right to the part of the post where we tell you how to fix it, we mentioned above that IBS is manageable, and there are many different ways that it can be treated, Often the first step is changing your diet.

Food intolerances have been linked to IBS symptoms for many years, however conflicting information often creates confusion and frustration as to what foods IBS patients should include, or avoid, in their diet. Recent research has identified six key strategies for the successful dietary management of IBS.

  1. Rule out lactose intolerance. The symptoms of lactose intolerance (an inability to digest the sugar in milk) and the symptoms of IBS often overlap
  2. Limit insoluble fibre. The type of fibre in the diet is important for people with IBS. Insoluble fibre (cannot dissolve in water) which is found primarily in wheat bran, brown rice, seeds, nuts, dried fruit and whole grain breads, adds bulk to the stool and can aggravate IBS symptoms in some people. Peeling fruits and vegetables to remove the high insoluble fibre skin or peel can be beneficial.
  3. Reduce fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs). Fermentable carbohydrates (also known as FODMAPs), are small carbohydrate (sugar) molecules found in everyday foods that may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine of some people. FODMAPs are fermented (digested) by intestinal bacteria, which can lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, excess gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. Following a low-FODMAP diet may help to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in 75% of IBS patients.
  4. Try a probiotic to improve symptoms of IBS. If other dietary strategies have not been successful, a 4-week trial of a probiotic (in the dose recommended by the manufacturer) may be helpful. Probiotics are not medicine. They are available to purchase as capsules, tablets or powders, and can also be found in some fortified yogurts and fermented milk products. However, not all probiotics are the same. It is important to choose a product that is reliable proven to be safe and offers benefits for the specific symptoms you want to relieve. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about which probiotic may be right for you. It is important to take the probiotic in the dose and duration recommended by the manufacturer to achieve the best results
  5. Eliminate a suspected trigger food for 2-4 weeks. If a particular food seems to trigger IBS symptoms,eliminate the food from your diet for a period of 2 to 4 weeks. If symptoms do not improve during that time, the food is unlikely the cause of IBS symptoms.Your doctor may also recommend prescription or over-the counter products if your IBS symptoms are severe and if lifestyle and dietary strategies have not helped. Typically, medications are targeted at the dominant symptom – diarrhea, constipation or pain. These may come in the form of Antidiarrheals or Laxatives, depending on your symptoms. Antispasmodic medications may help reduce muscle spasms, abdominal pain and cramping. Prosecretory and analgesic agents, which increase the amount of fluid in the digestive tract as well as reduce the sensitivity of pain nerves in the intestines, may also be used.

Peppermint Oil

The newest treatment option out there has recently been confirmed in a clinical trial, and it comes in the form of peppermint oil. Peppermint can relax muscle, ease hypersensitivity in the bowels, and modulate pain in IBS.

IBgard is a new clinically tested capsule filled with tiny beads of peppermint oil, using a technology called SST (Site Specific Targeting). It is the only product of its kind on the market that has gone through a clinical trial. It has been proven to be effective and safe in relieving symptoms in patients with moderate to severe IBS-M and IBS-D.

This product is easily attainable and available at most drug stores. Patients tested saw relief in symptoms over the course of 24 hours and continued relief over a 3-4 week period. You can read the full clinical study here, or,if you’re interested in givingIBgarda try, you can also print out a coupon for your first purchase here.

You’ve got this!

Managing IBS is a huge pain in the butt, but with help from your doctor, and persistence on your end with sticking to a new diet plan, combined with medical treatment, and a dash of peppermint to ease the pain, you’ll come out of this challenging health journey just fine. IBS can be stressful as you struggle each day to manage your symptoms, so be sure to ask for help if you’re feeling mentaly bogged down and lean on your personal support systems when you need them. Remember, you can do this!

 

 

Not sure
what’s causing
your symptoms?
Close

Where are you experiencing discomfort?

Click on the buttons on the body to the left or click from the list below where you are experiencing discomfort.