Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes abdominal cramping, pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, mucus in the stool and gas. These symptoms can improve and worsen. They can even disappear for a while and then come back.
The Mayo Clinic defines Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. Unlike other bowel diseases, IBS does not cause changes to your bowel tissue or increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Although the condition is chronic, it can be managed naturally.
What Causes IBS?
The exact cause of IBS is unknown; however, there are several factors that play a role in this condition. The intestines have a layer of mother that contract and release to help move food through your intestines. In IBS patients, these contractions are stronger and typically last longer than they do in a patient who does not have IBS. This can cause gas, diarrhea and bloating. If the muscles produce weak contractions, the digestion slows down and leads to constipation.
Some researchers believe that abnormalities in the gastrointestinal nervous system can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. This can be due to poorly coordinated signals from the brain to the intestines which cause an overreaction in the body, which causes diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain.
IBS can be triggered by certain stimuli, such as food intolerances or food allergies. The most common substances that cause symptoms include cruciferous vegetables, chocolate, fat, spices, fruit, dairy products, alcohol and carbonated drinks. Periods of stress can also aggravate the digestive system and cause symptoms. Hormone fluctuations and other illnesses, such as gastroenteritis and bacterial imbalances in the intestines can trigger IBS.
If your bowel habits change, you experience rectal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain that gets worse or occurs through the night, visit your physician. Additionally, if you experience chronic diarrhea or constipation, your physician may be able to help.
How to Relieve IBS Naturally
There are many lifestyle changes you can do to help relieve your IBS naturally, including:
- Eliminate gas producing foods, such as carbonated beverages, raw fruits and cruciferous vegetables.
- Eliminate gluten. Research suggests that gluten intolerances can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. If you suffer from IBS, your diarrhea symptoms may improve by eliminating gluten (wheat, rye and barley) from your diet.
- Eliminate certain carbohydrates, including fructose and lactose because these can trigger the symptoms of IBS. Fructose is the sugars that occur in fruits. Lactose is milk sugars. Both of these can cause distress to occur in the digestive system.
- Take a fiber supplement. Fiber supplements along with plenty of fluids can help curb constipation. Additionally, fiber supplement can add bulk to the waste and help relieve diarrhea. An IBS sufferer may have a sensitive stomach and certain fiber supplements can irritate the digestive tract. There are several different types of fiber supplements including psyllium fiber, methylcellulose fiber and acacia fiber. If one type of fiber does not alleviate your symptoms try out a different one until you see which one works. Also, slowly build up the dosage to avoid bloating and gas.
- Regular exercise can help relieve IBS symptoms. This is because exercise can help alleviate constipation and reduce stress. IBS patients often lead a sedentary lifestyle because of their symptoms. Exercise will not only help you improve your health, but it can help reduce stress. Start slowly with any exercise regimen and include aerobic exercises, as well as strength training and stretches.
- Stress reduction- Yoga and tai chi incorporates deep breathing exercises and mind and body concentration to help relax the body, including the digestive system. These exercises help calm your mind and body and concentrate on your breathing.
- Another great way to relieve your IBS symptoms is meditation. Mediation is known for its stress reduction capabilities. There are many different types of meditation , including guided imagery, binaural beats, mindfulness, mantra meditation and yoga meditation.
Irritable bowel syndrome causes painful symptoms. These symptoms can wax and wane. A patient may have no symptoms and then have a flare up. Some IBS sufferers experience constipation, others experience diarrhea and others experiance a combination of diarrhea and constipation. Abdominal pain, gas and bloating are also common in IBS sufferers. Eating healthy, regular exercise, fiber supplements and learning stress reduction techniques can help you deal with IBS naturally.