Understanding IBS

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The exact cause of IBS is not known, but there are several factors that lead to an irritable bowel. IBS is a complex and heterogeneous condition, and the causes can vary from person to person. Altered Gut Motility, Abnormalities in the Nervous System, Food Sensitivities, Psychological Factors, & Gut Microbiota Imbalance can all contribute towards its development.

There isn’t one single way to deal with symptoms of IBS, but rather several different ways. The best approach is to follow a prescription treatment and over-the-counter remedies with certain helpful lifestyle interventions, including minimizing daily stress and/or making dietary changes. Patients also turn to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that challenges habitual responses to stress and negative patterns of thought, to help with symptom management.

The duration of IBS can vary from person to person. IBS is a chronic condition, meaning it is ongoing and typically lasts for a long time. IBS is a functional disorder, meaning there is no structural damage to the digestive tract or increases the risk of developing other serious conditions, such as cancer. We recommended that you assess your condition at the earliest sign and manage your symptoms effectively.

Three types of IBS are based on different patterns of changes in your bowel movements or abnormal bowel movements.

  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
  • IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
  • IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M)

Although both illnesses can be seriously debilitating, there are several primary differences between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBD is an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling and ulcerations (sores) in the bowel. IBS involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system. While IBS itself may not completely go away, many people are able to effectively manage their symptoms and lead a normal life with the right combination of treatments and lifestyle modifications.

IBS is very common. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world, with an estimated 18% vs. 11% globally. IBS is more common in women than in men and tends to occur more frequently in younger individuals.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) typically does not develop suddenly, but rather tends to develop gradually over time. Symptoms of IBS can appear at any age, but they often begin during adolescence or early adulthood, but the underlying predisposition to IBS usually develops gradually.

Time. A brief bout of constipation or diarrhea doesn’t mean you have IBS. Prolonged or chronic GI symptoms over several months or even years, however, may indicate it.

Lactose intolerance and IBS are two distinct gastrointestinal conditions, but they can have overlapping symptoms and may coexist in some individuals. Additionally, the symptoms of lactose intolerance and IBS can be similar, making it challenging to differentiate between the two without appropriate testing or evaluation by a health professional.

The Rome IV Criteria is a set of diagnostic criteria and guidelines used to classify and diagnose functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), such as IBS.

Recurrent abdominal pain on average at least 1 day/week in the last 3 months, associated with two or more of the following criteria:

  • Related to defecation
  • Associated with a change in frequency of stool
  • Associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

The Bristol Stool Chart is a helpful tool used by health professionals to understand how our bowel movements looks and feel. It divides the different types of stools into seven categories, from hard lumps to watery diarrhea. This chart is particularly useful for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because it helps see if there are any problems with digestion. Bristol Stool Chart was developed in 1997 as a clinical assessment tool. There are seven types of stools (feces) according to the Bristol Stool Chart.

chart

No, IBS is not an infectious condition. While IBS can be influenced by factors such as stress, diet, and certain medications, it is not caused by an infection or contagious agent.

Fasting can potentially exacerbate symptoms of IBS in some individuals. The impact of fasting on IBS can vary among individuals. Some people with IBS may find that fasting provides temporary relief by allowing the digestive system to rest, while others may experience worsened symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and cancer are two distinct conditions with different causes and outcomes. Although IBS is considered a chronic condition, it does not cause cancer or increase the risk of developing cancer.

Yes, IBS can cause cramps. Abdominal pain and cramping are among the most common symptoms of IBS. These cramps are typically characterized by a lower abdominal discomfort that may be relieved by passing stools or gas. The severity and frequency of the cramps can vary from person to person and may range from mild to severe.

Some key points to remember about IBS

  • Symptoms of abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation may be part of a real medical condition called IBS
  • Through no fault of their own, patients have spent a significant amount of time suffering
  • Symptoms disrupt patients' everyday lives, social life and work
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation characterize a major portion of IBS sufferers
  • Many sufferers do not seek care for IBS

Yes, stress and strong emotions can indeed worsen irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. The gut and brain are closely connected through the gut-brain axis, and stress can trigger changes in gut sensitivity, motility, and inflammation, leading to more frequent or intense IBS symptoms such as diarrhea or gastrointestinal pain.

Anxiety can exacerbate IBS symptoms due to the gut-brain connection. When you're anxious and stressed, your body produces chemicals (ex. Cortisol) that can influence gut function. This can lead to increased bowel sensitivity, muscle contractions, and changes in digestion, all of which can trigger or intensify IBS symptoms.

Yes, depression can affect the digestive system and potentially contribute to the development of IBS. Chemical imbalances in the brain associated with depression can impact gut function. Similarly, changes in gut health can influence neurotransmitters that affect mood (ex. Serotonin). It's a two-way relationship where one could exacerbate the other.

Managing both IBS and mental health involves a holistic approach. Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing can help reduce anxiety and IBS symptoms, along with psychotherapy such as CBT which targets negative cognitive beliefs and distortions. Moreover, ensuring adequate sleep and creating a self-care routine targeting emotional and social well-being is a well-rounded approach to addressing IBS distress and psychological health simultaneously.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and cancer are two distinct conditions with different causes and outcomes. Although IBS is considered a chronic condition, it does not cause cancer or increase the risk of developing cancer.

Yes, therapy or counseling can be very beneficial for managing IBS and the related mental strain. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) along with other psychotherapeutic approaches have been shown to improve both IBS symptoms and psychological distress. Therapy can help individuals develop coping strategies for dealing with IBS triggers and the emotional impact they may have, as well as foster greater personal resilience and awareness of IBS which facilitates strategic management of symptoms.

Yes, inadequate sleep can worsen both IBS symptoms and mood. Sleep plays a crucial role in regulating homeostatic and survival body functions, including digestion and mood. Poor sleep can lead to increased gut sensitivity and inflammation, making IBS symptoms more pronounced. Moreover, it can also contribute to heightened stress and irritability which has the potential of triggering IBS flare-ups.

Yes, there is a connection between IBS, anxiety, and panic attacks. Anxiety can heighten the body's stress response through sympathetic nervous system activation (fight or flight), and this response is accompanied by symptoms reminiscent of panic attacks (ex. Increased heart rate and perspiration). The result is often an exacerbation of IBS symptoms and the creation of a negative cycle where the fear of experiencing symptoms can lead to more anxiety and even avoidance behaviors. Managing anxiety can help break this cycle and improve overall well-being.

Yes, a history of trauma can have a profound impact on both IBS and emotional well-being. Traumatic experiences can lead to long-lasting changes in the body's stress response system, affecting the release of stress-related chemicals and hormones. This leads to greater susceptibility to stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which can increase IBS flareups. Moreover, trauma influences the gut-brain axis by disrupting its proper communication, thus furthering the development or exacerbation of IBS symptoms. Negative experiences can also shape an individual's self-concept and self-esteem. Feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy resulting from trauma can create a negative self-image. This distorted self-concept can impact one’s emotional well-being and trigger/worsen IBS symptoms. A low self-concept tends to be correlated with increased stress and anxiety, which can further trigger IBS symptoms through those same stress-related chemicals.

Absolutely! Social support can have a positive impact on both IBS symptoms and mental well-being. Having a strong social network and feeling connected or accepted by others can help reduce feelings of isolation and stress, which are often associated with IBS and different mental health challenges. Social support may also trigger the release of mood-related chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, fostering positive emotions and reducing stress, which can alleviate IBS symptoms and promote healthier psychological balance.

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