IBS | Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a chronic condition that can be debilitating and make life miserable with daily discomfort, but there are things you can do to help yourself.
IBS affects the large intestine, which controls how food move through the body. It can also involve a microbial imbalance in the gastrointestinal surface lining.
Symptoms that may be signs of IBS include cramping, discomfort, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea and/or constipation.
What is IBS?
IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a disorder that affects the small and/or large intestine. Each person’s experience is unique. For some, an undiagnosed bacterial overgrowth causes IBS. For other patients, it can be a part of their family history. IBS is known as a chronic condition, meaning it can last over three months.
Symptoms of IBS
Signs and symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person and may include:
- Cramping (often relating to a bowel movement)
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in stool appearance
- Changes in the frequency of bowel movements
- Mucus present in the stool
- Weight loss
Triggers of IBS
- Nervous System Disorders
- Muscle Contractions in the Intestine
- Severe Infection
- Stress in Early Life and Genetics
- Gut Microbe Changes
The relationship between IBS, its symptoms and food allergies or intolerances isn’t fully understood yet. A true food allergy seldom causes IBS. However many people report that when they eat or drink certain foods it causes IBS flares and triggers symptoms. Foods such as wheat,
dairy, citrus, legumes, cabbage, and fizzy drinks are commonly identified.
Increased stress invariably causes a worsening of IBS symptoms. It should be noted that while stress may aggravate IBS, it is not the cause of IBS. Studies have shown a clear link between the brain and the gut. Patients with IBS have reported that stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms and trigger pain or discomfort.
Factors such as pregnancy can greatly impact symptoms and create changes in bowel movements that result in constipation, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal cramping, flatulence and pain for the patients. Sensitivity to new foods has also been reviewed by patients with their doctors
When your abdomen expands from gas or a bowel movement, abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system can cause you to feel more discomfort than usual.
While there’s nothing ‘functionally wrong’ during the digestive process, poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can cause your body to overreact to changes that normally occur.
This can result in pain, constipation and/or diarrhea and a change in bowel symptoms.
The intestinal walls are lined with layers of muscle that contract as food passes through your digestive system.
Weak intestinal contractions can slow food passage and cause hard, dry stools.
If the contractions are overactive instead (stronger and longer-lasting symptoms than normal), then flatulence, bloating, and diarrhea can result.
A severe bout of diarrhea (gastroenteritis) can make IBS develop. IBS symptoms may also be
linked to an overabundance of germs in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth).
Infections that require treatment with medications such as antibiotics can disrupt the gut.
Damage to healthy bacteria can have a negative impact on the immune system and increase
susceptibility to infection and symptoms in the future.
Research shows that people exposed to stressful events in childhood and early life tend to
struggle with IBS later in life. People in your family history may experience common symptoms.
Many people with IBS report a general sensitivity to certain items of food in their close and distant relatives, as well as common symptoms that IBS may be the cause of.
The gut microbiota is a complex community of microorganisms that reside in the gastrointestinal tract and is composed of bacteria, archaea, viruses and eukaryotes.
Research shows a difference in microbes to be a symptom of people with IBS compared to people without the diagnosis.
Contact Rosanne today
“I had years of IBS / gut symptoms, fatigue and a variety of other symptoms that my health
practitioner could not get to the bottom of. Working with Rosanne has made an enormous difference. A few targeted tests confirmed what Rosanne had suspected and her treatment programme has worked! My digestion has improved, I have regained my energy and generally feel so much better. Rosanne is very experienced and knowledgeable and I promote her to anyone who will listen!”
There is currently no definitive test to diagnose IBS. Rather diagnosis is based on the exclusion of other conditions, considering symptoms and lab tests.
Types of IBS
IBS is symptomatically classified into three types, namely constipation-predominant (IBS-C), and diarrhoea-predominant (IBS-D), some patients can experience a combination of both.
The third type is a blend of these two (an experience of both constipation and diarrhoea).
Diagnostic Tests Associated With IBS
Laboratory tests can include:
Lactose Intolerance Tests
Lactase is a digestive enzyme required to digest the sugar in dairy products and food. You may
have IBS-like symptoms, including abdominal discomfort, gas, and diarrhoea if you don’t make enough lactase.
If you have a milk allergy, your doctor may request a breath test or ask you to refrain from eating milk and milk products for weeks to test a diagnosis.
Breath Test for an Overgrowth of Bacteria
A breath test may help reveal symptoms of whether your small intestine is affected by bacterial overgrowth.
A bacteria overgrowth is more prevalent in those who have had bowel surgery or suffer from diabetes or another illness that affects digestion.
If you have recurrent symptoms of loose stools or diarrhoea, your stool may be reviewed for
germs or parasites, as well as bile acid, which is made in your liver (bile acid) and aids with
Once other conditions have been ruled out, the Rome criteria are implemented to diagnose IBS.
The Rome Criteria are a set of standards used by doctors to diagnose a patient with an FGID (a disorder of gut-brain interaction).
These Rome criteria are revised every 6–10 years by the Rome Foundation et al.
Note: IBS is not the same as IBD. IBD is an umbrella term for two conditions, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. These two conditions are characterised by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Contact Rosanne today
Do you suspect you may have IBS? If you do, a correct diagnosis is vital for your health.