IBS stands for 'Irritable Bowel Syndrome' which is a chronic condition in which a patient has frequent stomach upsets resulting in the titular 'irritable bowel'. In other words, this is distinct from diarrhoea in that it is not an acute problem causing a period of stomach difficulties that passes with time, but rather an on-going complain that lies dormant for long periods and then comes back again during certain times. Irritable bowel syndrome can present itself either as diarrhoea or constipation and is often accompanied with stomach pains and cramps. It is more likely to affect women than men.
The precise causes of IBS are not fully known, and there are many potential contributing factors and many theories. IBS has been shown to have a psychosomatic element – in that it is linked closely to stress. If you are going through a very stressful period then you may find that this means you are more likely to experience the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. This is similar to certain 'tiredness' complaints such as CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and some explanations suggest the two are linked.
One treatment for IRS then is stress management, and learning techniques such a controlled breathing, meditation and others can be a good way to reduce the effects of the condition. At the same time it is prudent to generally find ways to avoid stress and to minimize it in your life (which of course is the case even if you do not suffer from IBS).
IBS is also of course affected by diet, and what you eat can as ever have an impact on your bowel movements and so must be considered. Those with irritable bowel syndrome should attempt to avoid foods which can lead to constipation and other toilet problems – such as fats which are difficult for the body to digest, and such as tea and coffee. On the other hand, a diet high in fruit and fiber can help a lot to encourage regular and normal bowel movements.
Additionally it is possible that IBS can be caused by allergies or food intolerances, as well as by malabsorbtion. Malabsorbtion means that certain food groups can pass through the body without being properly absorbed first which in turn means that there are wrong amounts passing through as stool. If this happens it can cause symptoms like diarrhoea or constipation and it is important to identify the problem. One way to do this is with a breath test in which your breath will be tested before and after eating in order to see the fluctuations in the methane and other contents of your breath.
Food intolerances such as wheat allergies are also commonly responsible for IBS-like symptoms and so it's important to find out if this might be affecting you. One way to identify potential dietary causes of IBS is to keep a food diary along with a bowel diary, and this way you can note how changes in your diet correlate with changes in your stomach difficulties.
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One way to get to the bottom of your IBS is with a Breath Test. Click here to get started.
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