Irritable Bowel Syndrome known as IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. Recent research has shown that it affects up to 23% of the population worldwide. The symptoms of IBS may come and go, be mild or severe. They include abdominal discomfort, cramps, spasms, wind, bloating, altered bowel function of constipation or diarrhoea, and fatigue. In particular, fatigue is very prevalent in IBS sufferers, yet it often is an overlooked symptom.
It is very important therefore to get a medical professional diagnosis of IBS and not diagnose yourself. This is to rule out the possibility of having more serious conditions that mimic IBS symptoms such as the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. These are serious conditions that require on-going medical supervision in their treatment. Do not confuse them with IBS.
There is really no one single cause of IBS. Women suffer twice as much as men, mostly it affects people from their teens to their forties, family lifestyle and genetics also have a bearing and smoking is another contributory factor. Usually what triggers IBS is emotional factors such as stress, general anxiety disorder, hormonal imbalance, abuse and irregular meal times.
Is there a Solution? The general approach to treating IBS is to relieve and suppress symptoms. Medications used include anti-spasmodics, laxatives, anti-motility, and sometimes anti-depressants. These do provide relief, however the long-term solution lies with identifying and addressing the underlying cause, otherwise the symptoms will recur. Diet and lifestyle changes are an excellent starting point, but if symptoms persist having made these changes you may have to look a little further. Other contributing factors could be food sensitivities, coeliac disease, gut impermeability, bacterial infection, candida, parasites, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Probiotics work quite well if it is an imbalance in the gut flora, but that is not the issue in all cases. To overcome IBS you need to get down to specifics. Functional medicine tests can determine this for you. Also, consider adopting a low FODMAP’s diet for a specific length of time. Both of these options should be under the supervision of an integrative G.P. or a functional medicine nutritionist.