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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disturbance of the intestinal tract. Its symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and abnormal bowel movements. Diarrhea may often alternate with constipation, while pain and bloating may be relieved by a bowel movement. Nerve endings in the bowel are unusually sensitive, so that normal bowel events, such as passing fluid or gas, cause abnormal muscle reactions and contractions.
Cause & Impact
IBS is known as a Functional Disorder. There is no known direct cause of the syndrome. Symptoms appear to be caused by spasm of your bowel muscles. This results from increased sensitivity within the bowel to almost anything: eating, stress, emotional arousal or gaseous distension. People who have IBS often say they felt like their life revolve around the bathroom because of their irregular bowel habits alternating between constipation and diarrhea. However, with some simple lifestyle changes, those same people say that their lives have improved a great deal.
Evaluate your eating habits and levels of stress. Try to increase your dietary fiber and avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. Also, remember to drink at least 8 glasses of fluid per day. Avoid or develop coping mechanisms for stress. Stress may be triggered by overwork, poor sleep habits or personal difficulties. Proper rest and regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and help with IBS. Adding natural products to your diet such as Probiotics may help improve your IBS symptoms as well. There are medications which may reduce the spasm in your intestinal tract, but those have side-effects and may be avoided in most IBS patients.
Change Your Diet
Learning what if right and wrong for you is the best way to minimize the effects of IBS and maximize the benefit of your diet. Generally, adding Bran or another natural source of fiber, like the Psyllium in Metamucil, can help you relieve the constipation associated with IBS.
Are You Alone?
No! In fact, the symptoms of IBS occur in 10-20% of adults. Its symptoms are the second most common cause of taking days off work, after the common cold.
Is IBS Forever?
Not necessarily. It has been established that 10% of IBS sufferers get better each year. Of course, this will be affected by your lifestyle and stress levels, but YOU have the ability to control these factors and the symptoms of IBS.
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