No – don’t eat there! Are there places you know to avoid, certain cooks, restaurants or food? Ever wonder why it only bothers you and not others? Do you have a sensitive gut and need to run to the loo? Perhaps your sensitivity has a label, irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects many people and can be managed through diet, reducing stress and lifestyle changes. Some may have severe symptoms that require medication or referral to a specialist.
Common symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal pain, cramping or discomfort
- Excess gas, bloating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- In women, symptoms may occur more during menstruation
Symptoms may be relieved with a bowel movement.
IBS does not increase the risk of gastrointestinal or colorectal cancer. However, it can be confused with more serious conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer. Seek medical attention if you are experiencing more serious symptoms such as:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain which is not relieved by a bowel movement or passing gas
- Rectal bleeding
- Difficulty swallowing
IBS is more common in women than in men. The cause of IBS is not known, but we do know of some factors that can make the condition worse:
- Some medications
- Diet / stress / foods that stimulate, irritate or increase inflammation in the gut or intestines
- Infections in the gut
- Changes in bacteria flora of the gut (less of the good bacteria which health people have)
- Hormonal changes
IBS can be managed in most people by addressing the factors and having regular bowel movements. Regular exercise, decreasing stress, and avoiding food triggers can be helpful in decreasing symptoms of IBS. Taking probiotics to increase your “good” gut bacteria may help. Your PharmaChoice pharmacist can assist your selection of self-treatments and meet your health care provider’s recommendations for IBS.