Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Intestinal distress associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) results in more than three million medical consultations each year. Although this condition can not be cured, it can be treated, often by just modifying its diet and exercising.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Although we do not know exactly what is causing this mysterious illness that makes miserable those who suffer from it, doctors today recognize that “it does not just happen in the head.” They will also tell you that it is not a disease that threatens your life and that it will not turn into a more serious condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer.
To better understand the SCI, it is useful to compare its process to that of healthy digestion. When partially digested foods arrive in the stomach, they are usually expelled into the intestines by a gentle alternation of contraction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestinal wall; This is called peristalsis. When we suffer from SCI, the muscles of the colon (part of the large intestine) become spasm, contracting too often and violently (causing diarrhea) or insufficiently and weakly (causing constipation).
People at Risk for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Alternate diarrhea and constipation episodes that are associated with irritable bowel syndrome occur in late adolescence or early twenties, mostly in women. However, many people who suffer from it never receive a diagnosis, regular medical tests revealing no particular abnormality.
The causes of this disorder of the colon are much speculated. Some think that hormonal problems may be involved (women who suffer from the syndrome seem to be more prone to premenstrual syndrome) or a chemical imbalance in the brain. In some, seizures appear to be triggered by foods, or substances, including lactose in dairy products. The abuse of antibiotics may also be involved, as well as a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection.
Stress also seems to play a key role. Even a healthy person who finds himself in a particularly stressful situation will have intestinal spasms and ultimately even release his intestines. The difference is that individuals with SCI experience this intestinal response to stress excessively.
Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Your doctor will likely start testing you for more severe intestinal disorders such as Chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and cancer of the eye. colon. Once these diseases are excluded, your treatment program will depend on your primary symptoms: diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and bloating. If your syndrome is mild (this is the case for two-thirds of patients), the doctor will probably advise you to start with non-drug approaches: diet change, stress management techniques, exercise. If they fail to relieve you, you will be advised to take medication.
Drugs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If your symptoms persist despite changes in your lifestyle, your doctor may recommend either of the following medicines (do not forget to talk to them about their side effects and make sure you Scrupulously respect the instructions for use):
- Antidiarrhoeal agents such as loperamide (Imodium AD), over-the-counter medication, and diphenoxylate hydrochloride/atropine sulfate (Lomotil), a prescription drug, curb the contractions that cause diarrhea. Although they should not be used regularly, they are very useful in preventing diarrhea in sensitive situations or when it is predictable.
- Over-the-counter hyperosmotic laxatives, such as magnesium hydrate (Phillips milk of magnesia) and lactulose (Chronulac, Duphalac), may relieve your constipation. Just as with antidiarrheals, you should not get used to it because, in the long run, they could aggravate your constipation. At first, you may be able to take a psyllium-based product.
- Antispasmodics, such as dicyclomine (Bentyl), hyoscyamine (Levsin) or atropine sulfate (Donnatal), should be prescribed by the doctor. They help to relax the intestinal muscles and relieve acute abdominal pain. Take the medication 30 to 60 minutes before the meal.
- Tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine (Tofranil, Norfranil) and amitriptyline (Elavil) block the contraction signals that neurons send to the intestine. Prescribed at much lower doses for the treatment of SCI than for depression, they also block pain signals that the organ sends to the brain.
- 5-HT3 antagonists have been developed specifically to treat the symptoms of SCI.
Tegaserod maleate (Zelnorm) has recently been approved to treat women whose primary symptom of SCI is constipation.
Changes in lifestyle
Many people feel better simply by changing their diet. In essence, avoid foods that aggravate your symptoms and limit yourself to those that do not cause you problems. It may be helpful to keep a diary to identify possible links between your symptoms and what you eat. Note what you are eating and the foods that trigger a particular sign. For example, you might digest dairy products, wheat or corn products, or acid foods or spicy foods. Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and mannitol, as well as coffee, alcohol and even chocolate, can also cause spasms.
Heavy meals can trigger intestinal contractions; So it is better to eat often but little at a time. You could also increase your fiber intake. Do it gradually over a period of a few weeks. You will benefit greatly if constipation or abdominal cramps are your main symptoms. By absorbing water from the intestines, the fibers soften the stool and facilitate its expulsion. They also give them volume; The colon being full, the risks of spasms are less. Flakes and oat bran, soy products, barley, and beans are all rich in soluble fiber. If you decide to take a laxative of ballast, for example, psyllium seed (Metamucil, Citrucel),
If gas is your main symptom, try to eliminate foods that cause flatulence, including beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, cucumber, and leafy vegetables. When you get better, reintroduce them gradually into your diet and watch what happens.
Get more exercise. Results from studies of women with SCI indicate that those who exercised had fewer symptoms than others. Not only does the exercise stimulate digestion, but it strengthens the abdominal muscles, helping to keep these intestines dissipated. It is also an excellent way to relieve stress. Practice aerobic exercise three times a week, at least 30 minutes per session.
Interventions for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If stress aggravates your irritable bowel syndrome, relaxation techniques such as biofeedback and hypnosis might help. You can learn from professionals and then practice them yourself at home. During a biofeedback session, you are connected to a device that takes measurements of your various functions, such as your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. As you practice relaxation exercises, the device continually provides you with feedback, letting you know to what degree your body is relaxed. In the long run, you will be able to produce the same results without the device. As for hypnosis, its purpose is to bring you into a state of deep relaxation. The hypnotherapist guides you through this process, telling you to visualize your relaxing muscles of the intestines. After a few sessions, you will be able to enter and exit at the will of the hypnotic state and will arrive, by autosuggestion, to reproduce the relaxation experience.
Alternative Approaches for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
For many people with SCI, the essence of peppermint, which acts as a muscle relaxant, brings relief. In a study of 110 individuals with this condition, it was observed that those who took a gasoline capsule 15 to 20 minutes before meals had less bloating, diarrhea and pain after a meal Months of the plan. Opt for an entero-soluble supplement so that gasoline acts in your intestine and not elsewhere. Take one or two capsules (each containing 0.2 ml of gasoline) two or three times a day before meals. Do not take this product if you are pregnant (it has the effect of relaxing the uterus) or if you suffer from a hiatal hernia. Avoid, also, the infusion of peppermint,
Questions to ask your doctor
- Why do not you give me exams for colon cancer and other bowel diseases?
- Will I be a good candidate for a clinical trial? If so, do I run the risk?
- Do you think I am anxious because of ICS, or vice versa?
- Given that IBS is not cured, will I still experience so many discomforts? What else can I do?
Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Here are some tips that will help you better manage your irritable bowel syndrome:
- Consult with a counseling therapist. If you are depressed because the ICS has severely undermined your strength over the years, you may want to refer to a psychotherapist or a behaviorist.
- Try to find out if you are suffering from lactose intolerance. For many people, the symptoms of SCI are difficult to distinguish from those of lactose intolerance. Experiment: Drink two glasses of skimmed milk on an empty stomach. If after four hours you have gas, bloating or diarrhea, repeat the test, this time by drinking milk treated with lactase, for example, Lactaid. If, after two hours, you experience no symptoms, it may be a sign that you are lactose intolerant. You can also ask your doctor to take a reliable test to detect lactose intolerance.