In a world full of abbreviated words, when you hear the acronym IBS, you may be stumped as to what it means. In lieu of a Google search, IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and it’s a disorder that affects the large intestine. So why is it important for women to know about Irritable Bowel Syndrome? IBS affects about 12% of the population but women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome than their male counterparts. The fact that it affects women more than men means that it’s extremely important for women to know what Irritable Bowel Syndrome is, the causes of IBS, symptoms associated with it and treatments that are available.
What Are The Symptoms Of IBS?
The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome vary but the most common ones cited are: Abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and food intolerances. Sufferers also often report fatigue, trouble sleeping and increased instances of depression and anxiety. You may be reading this and thinking that you’ve suffered from most if not all of these symptoms from time to time and have thought nothing of it. While most people will report suffering from these symptoms at some point in their lives, the biggest thing that differentiates most people from people suffering from IBS is the intensity and frequency at which they experience these symptoms.
How Is IBS Diagnosed?
There are no good tests that can be taken to diagnose IBS and for the most part, the only way that a diagnosis can be made by a physician is based on how often a patient reports having these common symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Your doctor is likely to look for the following criteria to help with the diagnosis. They’ll want to see if you’ve experienced recurring abdominal pain for 6 months or more and weekly pain for 3 months or more as well as how frequent changes in your bowel movements happen (loose stool to hard stool and vice versa).
Your doctor will also likely do some process of elimination and look to rule out some other disorders that are similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome before comfortably saying that you have IBS. You may be referred to a gastroenterologist to help with this diagnosis. Most people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, start to experience symptoms in childhood and the condition typically presents itself in the majority of sufferers before they hit the age of 35.
What Is The Cause Of IBS?
There are no known causes of IBS but suggestions have been made that the condition may be linked to genetics. Experts have also alluded to food allergies and sensitivities having a role in who this syndrome affects. A new study by the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University in collaboration with researchers from the University of Waterloo may have found a link between gut bacteria in people with IBS and their behavioral symptoms and the American Physiological Society conducted a study that suggested that Irritable Bowl Syndrome disproportionately affects women because the intestine’s nerve cells are more sluggish in women. Unfortunately, none of these studies have been conclusive enough to make an actual correlation and medical experts are still trying to nail down an exact cause.
Is There A Cure For IBS?
There are no known cures for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There are however some over-the-counter-medicines and prescription medicines that may be prescribed to you to help relieve your IBS symptoms, For the most part though, experts believe that the best way to control your Irritable Bowel Syndrome is by avoiding certain foods that may trigger or worsen your IBS symptoms and by making good dietary decisions.
Foods that should be avoided are ones like unrefined bread and cereals, sodas and other carbonated drinks, coffee, alcoholic beverages, processed junk foods, and dairy product. These foods have been shown to worsen constipation symptoms in IBS suffers. Additionally, foods that are fried or fatty, foods that are high in sugar and foods that are known to cause gas like beans should be eaten in limited quantities or avoided completely if possible as they have been known to make diarrhea and gas worse in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
How Is IBS Managed?
Experts also recommend eating small meals frequently rather than large meals to help with symptoms and to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. While this diet may seem restrictive, the good thing about it is that it puts the control of the disorder in the hands of the sufferer and gives them the ability to control their disorder rather than letting their disorder control them.
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