SPECIAL EDITION NEWSLETTER
"Irritable Bowel Syndrome"
We hope this informative report will be helpful to you or someone you know who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a chronic condition of the intestinal / digestive tract.
Here are some FACTS relating to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), also known as Spastic Colon:
- one in five adults has symptoms associated with IBS
- the true cause for IBS is unknown and there is no known "cure" for IBS
- IBS or spastic colon is a common cause for abdominal pain
- two to four times more women are diagnosed with IBS than men
- gallbladder disease, cancer, ulcers, or other digestive system disorders may have similar symptoms, so it is necessary to see a doctor for proper diagnosis
- although diagnosed IBS may be annoying, painful, and at times embarrassing, it is NOT considered life-threatening
JUST WHAT IS IBS?
If you just cannot stay out of the bathroom, your digestive system seems totally out of control, and your stomach is often "tied in knots," then you may be having bouts of irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), also known as spastic colon, is characterized by recurring symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping that appear without a clear cause. IBS accounts for 30 to 50 percent of patient visits to gastroenterologists (physicians who specialize in disorders of the intestinal tract).
IBS is the most common of all the digestive disorders and its most frequent symptom is moderate to severe abdominal pain coupled with diarrhea. The diarrhea associated with IBS is not true diarrhea in that there is no increase in stool volume. Patients sometimes pass mucus with the stools and have a sensation of incomplete evacuation of the bowels following defecation. Toxins and mucus may become trapped and cause abdominal cramps and painful constipation, which could lead to other difficulties of the colon, such as polyps, cancer, hemorrhoids, and bleeding.
Twice as many women as men report IBS symptoms to their physicians, but many people experience IBS without recognizing it and never seek medical attention. Only a small percentage of the population has chronic symptoms, yet IBS is estimated to affect about 15 % of adults at some time in their lives. The onset of IBS is usually in early adulthood, although it can affect children, and often strikes during periods of significant change or stress.
There are other ailments that appear to be linked to IBS and arthritis that affects the ankles, knees and wrists is named among them. Abnormal liver enzymes can also be found in some people.
- Constipation or diarrhea shortly after meals, over a period of several months, usually accompanied by abdominal cramps or bloating and increased intestinal gas.
- Bowel movements different in frequency or consistency from your normal pattern.
There is no reported cause of IBS among most medical professionals. Many authorities consider it a stress-induced illness, while others lean toward food sensitivities, especially as people age.
Diet is a constant factor for those who suffer with IBS. Overeating or binge eating, is known to aggravate or irritate the bowels, as does too much fat in the diet. Lactose intolerance, eating irregularly or too quickly, and smoking may all be factors in IBS. The sugar substitutes sorbitol and aspartame can induce diarrhea in some people. Even water which is unfiltered can have content that creates a problem with constipation or diarrhea in some people.
Medicines are another primary consideration. Certain antibiotics alter the population of bacteria in the intestines, causing diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Morphine and codeine, the aluminum salts of antacids, and the prescription drug methotrexate can cause constipation and cause intestinal upset. Certain antihistamines, mineral supplements, diuretics, sedatives, food additives, antidepressants, and other chemical-based substances can also result in constipation or diarrhea in some individuals.
Physicians diagnose IBS only after conducting a series of tests that rule out other gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, lactose intolerance, intestinal parasites, and polyps. These tests include a barium enema, stool parasite culture, and sigmoidoscopy, examination of the lower intestines with a hollow, tubelike instrument passed through the anus. Since stress is a potential element in IBS diagnosis, you may be asked about your personal history, including factors that may be causing emotional or psychological problems.
Some Scientists believe there to be a disturbance of the beneficial micro-flora. This is thought to be a result of overuse of antibiotics, antacids or laxatives. Some people have related illness with candidiasis, colon cancer, diabetes mellitus, gallbladder, ulcers and malabsorption disorders.
Medical professionals state that there is no cure for IBS. Treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms. High fiber diets or antispasmodic drugs may relieve constipation, and anti diarrheal drugs may alleviate prolonged diarrhea. Although there is no scientific evidence linking irritable bowel syndrome and the amount of fiber in the diet, some people benefit from eating a high-fiber diet, while others find reducing their carbohydrate intake helps.
Conventional methods for treating IBS not only include increasing dietary fiber and reducing carbohydrates, but your doctor may also recommend an appropriately balanced nutritional program. Cutting fat, salt, and calories and eating foods rich in grains and protein may prove beneficial as will proper exercise and stress management. Your doctor may prescribe loperamide to slow the movement of food through the intestines, dicyclomide to calm the gastrointestinal tract, or atropine or belladonna to relieve stomach cramps. Always check with your pharmacist for side effects to any prescription.
Alternative choices include various herbal and dietary remedies which may be effective in preventing or soothing the discomfort of diarrhea and constipation. Relaxation techniques may be particularly effective in coping with the stress-related aspects of the syndrome.
Sometimes the bacteria in your stomach and digestive tract are killed when you take certain antibiotics, or they become overwhelmed by other types of intestinal flora. Ingesting a cup of natural yogurt or using supplements containing "good bacteria" and enzymes will help counteract the negative effects of using prescription antibiotic drugs.
Certain foods may contribute to IBS by irritating your gastrointestinal tract. Most things that people say taste good - from hamburgers and fries to ice cream, chocolate, and pizza - are made with lots of fat. Whether it is vegetable oil or animal fat, saturated or unsaturated, dietary fat overload is something that many people simply cannot handle. Other known irritants for some people include eggs, dairy products, spicy foods, coffee - especially decaffeinated. Alcohol and tobacco can also irritate the walls of the intestinal tract, including the stomach and colon. To check for food sensitivities, try an elimination diet: stop eating a suspected food for 10 to 30 days, then try it again. If you get an adverse reaction, avoid that food in the future.
Foods high in FIBER is of utmost importance in combating IBS. If you are like most people, you do not get enough fiber in your diet. To correct a fiber deficiency: gradually increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and bran in your diet. A quality psyllium-based fiber supplement like our "Colon Formula" is a convenient way to add fiber to your diet. When using fiber-based supplements care should be taken to drink plenty of purified water, several more glasses than what you would normally drink.
Mal-nutrition may result because nutrients often pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed. With this in mind, some people may require more nutrients and as much as 30 percent more protein.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF you are unsure as to why you are having any of the symptoms below:
- You have pain in the lower left abdomen, fever, and sometimes a
change in the frequency of bowel movements.
- You discover blood in your stools.
- You have a fever, or you have been losing weight unexpectedly.
- Your stools are different from their usual frequency and consistency and may be passed with mucus.
Links to other helpful resources:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about IBS http://qurlyjoe.bu.edu/cducibs/ibsfaq.html
- IBS Self-Help Group http://www.ibsgroup.org/
- BOOKS "http://www.theolivebranch.com/amazon/health.htm
We found that some natural therapists suggest using the following
for IBS symptoms:
- carob (ceratonia siliqua) tea for relieving the diarrhea
- peppermint (mentha piperita) oil capsules or tea for calming an overactive gastrointestinal tract
- chamomile (matricaria recutita) tea for soothing the stomach cramps
- bayberry tea for soothing the intestinal tract and stomach
- slippery elm tea for relieving stomach cramps
We hope you found this information regarding IBS informative and helpful. We thank our associates and friends for their contribution to our Newsletter.
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Please note: the information contained herein has been compiled from various sources. The above statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We make no claims, either expressed or implied, that any treatments mentioned in this newsletter will cure disease, replace prescription medication, or supersede sound medical advice.
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