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Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can be uncomfortable to live with. However, with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, symptoms can be managed to improve quality of life. Learn what are doctors at American Hospital Dubai are doing to help patients with IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome, or "IBS," is a condition that causes abdominal pain and problems with bowel movements. Some people with the condition have frequent, watery bowel movements (diarrhea). Others do not have enough bowel movements (constipation). Some patients switch back and forth between diarrhea and constipation.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can differ in severity as well as duration in each person and in some cases, may also cause damage to the intestinal area. Though IBS does not increase the chances of patients developing gastrointestinal cancers, unlike IBD, however, it can still cause discomfort and generally affect your life.
Symptoms of IBS are not persistent but once they are resolved, they can keep coming back. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Diarrhea (or alternating bowel movement)
- Gas and Bloating
Abdominal pain and cramps caused by IBS can vary depending on bowel movement. Patients may feel relief from cramps after a bowel movement as well as how often they have a bowel movement.
Though men and women experience the same symptoms, they are much more frequently reported by women especially closer to the time of mensuration. Women experiencing menopause generally have fewer symptoms.
In some cases, IBS has also been linked with anxiety and stress. Our nervous system has some control over our digestive system, which is why when we are under stress, our digestive system can become overactive. Some experts also believe that the immune system, which impacts our levels of stress, also affects IBS.
The root cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown but having a weak immune system as well as a sensitive colon can increase the chances of developing IBS. Bacterial infections occurring in the gastrointestinal tract can also lead to IBS during postinfectious stages.
There is no specific test to diagnose IBS. However, the doctors need to do some tests to check out for conditions that mimic IBS for example to rule out inflammatory bowel disease and colitis.
There is no single treatment to completely cure IBS but there are ways to achieve relief from its symptoms. Doctors may recommend dietary changes to improve quality of life but if symptoms are severe, medications may also be prescribed. It is important to note that medications may work differently for each individual person which is why it is important to consult with your doctor to determine what will work best for you.
Some medications for IBS are used to control either all the symptoms or specific ones. Your doctor may recommend drugs that can control muscle spasms, tricyclic antidepressants to manage pain or prescribe medicines to treat associated constipation (such as laxatives), or medicines for diarrhea. It is also important to let your doctor know of any herbal remedies or over-the-counter drugs that you might be taking beforehand.
Dietary changes can also hugely affect IBS and provide patients with symptom relief. Cutting out certain types of foods such as beans, fried foods, sugar, and dairy may help in reducing symptoms. Foods such as ginger, chamomile, and peppermint may also help to reduce IBS symptoms. Apart from diet, bringing forth certain lifestyle changes can also help in improving the quality of life and lessen the symptoms of IBS. Lifestyle changes that you could follow are:
- Regularly exercising
- Eliminating caffeinated beverages that can stimulate the intestines from your diet
- Therapy or meditation to control stress
- Increasing intake of probiotics
- Eating smaller meals
- Avoiding spicy foods
If you are experiencing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and would like to consult one of our expert physicians, you can do so by contacting us through the form provided on our website. At American Hospital, our aim is to help our patients to improve their quality of life. Our gastroenterologists are experienced in diagnosing and treating a vast number of digestive diseases, ensuring that their patients are given state-of-the-art healthcare services that are suited to their needs.