It’s estimated that approximately 10/15 percent of Americans suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS can be a painful and challenging disorder, marked by excessive abdominal pain, cramping, excessive gas, and both diarrhea and constipation. With symptoms like these, it’s probably no wonder it goes often goes misdiagnosed or undiagnosed altogether, as they are a common part of the human experience.
For more than 20 years, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders has designated April IBS Awareness Month to educate people, medical professionals, teachers, and other community groups about the health issues surrounding IBS. While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, one thing is for sure: good gut health is key to keeping IBS in check. Let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms and how to get them under control.
Common Signs of IBS
Symptoms of IBS can be brought on by food allergies or foods that naturally make us gassy. We might experience them when we eat the wrong thing (something that’s too fatty, for example), or when we’re under a lot of stress, and it might be easy to chalk the symptoms up to other factors.
However, in addition to the symptoms mentioned above, patients may also experience more serious and severe symptoms. These include:
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea at night
- Rectal bleeding
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Unexplained vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent pain that isn’t relieved by passing gas or a bowel movement
If you experience any of these on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Getting Your Digestive Tract on Track
One way to help reduce or mitigate IBS symptoms is to adjust your diet. Makes sense, since having good gut health plays a central role in overall health levels. Having a healthy microbiome (the ecosystem of your digestive tract) can go a long way to keeping IBS at bay.
Two key things you can do to achieve a healthy gut include:
- Eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables to reduce the number of disease-causing bacteria in the gut
- Get tested for food allergies to ensure that something in your diet doesn’t trigger IBS
- Reduce or eliminate sugars, which can cause irritation and inflammation
Another tactic for addressing the pain and discomfort caused by IBS is to take steps to improve your coping mechanisms. These can include:
- Finding ways to reduce stress
- Practice breathing exercises to help assuage the pain
- Relaxation exercises that help your entire body relax
Lastly, in extreme circumstances, a doctor may prescribe medications to help the patient cope with or mitigate pain. This might anything from anticholinergic agents, which help reduce intestinal symptoms, to pain medications that block pain signals, to antidepressants.
Of course, if you’re experiencing any symptoms, we highly recommend seeking the help of a medical professional. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists and nutritionists, who can diagnose your symptoms and help you find a personalized approach to managing them.
Schedule an appointment today and get help kick starting your path to a healthier, more natural way of living and eating.
Use the form on our site or give us a call us at 301-703-5067.