If you’ve received a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, you may want to consider visiting an IBS treatment center to fully explore your options for relieving your painful gastrointestinal symptoms. IBS is a complex disease that can vary from person to person, and its causes are varied and not entirely clear. IBS affects over 14% of Americans, mostly women, and can cause significant discomfort, distress, and embarrassment. Clinics specializing in IBS treatments can help you find the right medications, lifestyle changes, and other methods for managing your symptoms, which can go a long way toward reducing pain and improving your health and quality of life. There is no known cure for irritable bowel syndrome, but the condition is very treatable, and there are many options for people suffering from this disorder.
Do You Have IBS?
Irritable bowel disorder is characterized by persistent, chronic gastrointestinal problems. These symptoms can vary from person to person, but they often include:
● Abdominal discomfort and pain
● Unusually urgent need for bowel movements
● A feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation (tenesmus)
● Blood in stool
● Gastrointestinal reflux
● Chronic fatigue
● Depression, anxiety, and other psychological distress
There are different subtypes of IBS, and it can be predominated by constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of the two. Irritable bowel syndrome also sometimes arise after a person has had an episode of acute gastroenteritis (a bacterial or viral stomach illness).
If you suffer from constant stomach problems, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibility of IBS. A good first step is to talk about your symptoms to your primary care physician. They may either give you a diagnosis, or refer you to a gastroenterologist. Diagnosing irritable bowel syndrome generally involves doing some tests to rule out other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This often includes checking for bacterial pathogens in a stool sample, carrying out blood tests to check for coeliac disease, checking for gallstones via abdominal ultrasound, checking for stomach ulcers or cancerous growths, and making sure you are metabolising sugars like fructose and glucose correctly. Irritable bowel syndrome is very common, and when other problems have been ruled out, it’s the most likely diagnosis.
An IBS Treatment Center Can Determine What’s Causing It
No one is entirely sure what causes IBS, and at a clinic specializing in treating IBS, doing research into the causes of the disease is part of what they do. Although there isn’t any single “IBS gene,” irritable bowel syndrome does seem to run in families. IBS is an inflammatory condition, and in many cases, it could be a response to a food allergy. There are many food allergies that exist, and it’s possible to have one that causes irritable bowels. In cases of food allergies, your body is treating certain compounds in the foods as if they were foreign invaders, triggering the same processes that your body uses to fight off viral and bacterial infections. This inflames the linings of your stomach and intestines, causing pain, constipation, diarrhea, and other symptoms. While conventional allergy testing only looks for one particular type of antibody, IBS treatment centers often test for others as well. This can help identify a previously undetected food allergy, allowing the doctors to figure out the best ways to treat IBS in that individual.
IBS can also be triggered by some types of bacterial and yeast infections. The human body hosts hundreds of types of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Most of these are harmful or even beneficial, but sometimes the body’s immune system can accidentally react to “good” bacteria. This can cause IBS symptoms. Yeast (Candida spp.) can also invade your GI tract and cause inflammatory bowel syndrome.
At an IBS treatment center, you will be given comprehensive, specialized tests to try to figure out what’s triggering it. This is a huge part of finding IBS remedies that actually work for you. This can often include:
● A food allergy profile. This involves testing to determine whether you have a food allergy and, if so, what you’re allergic to. Not all food allergies cause anaphylactic shock, and milder symptoms like IBS could easily be due to something you’re eating. The standard blood test that they use can measure sensitivities to over 100 types of foods, including eggs, milk, seafood, wheat, peanuts, soy, almonds, tree nuts, and more. Many researchers at IBS clinics have found that a high percentage of IBS patients have some sort of food sensitivity.
● DNA microbial profiles. If your IBS isn’t associated with a food allergy, it’s possible that could be caused by yeast, bacteria, or other pathogens. These tests also look at the levels of “good” bacteria present in your system. Sometimes, abnormally low amounts of gut microflora can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. They’ll also make sure that you don’t have parasites like hookworms or tapeworms.
● Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Functional Panels. These tests evaluate your overall GI function. They look for certain substances that are markers of inflammation, as well as enzyme levels that can indicate problems with your digestion.
● Fatigue panels check for causes of the chronic fatigue that frequently accompanies IBS. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, you may find that you’re tired all or most of the time. This could be from another cause other than the IBS itself. Doctors will check your thyroid function, vitamin levels, iron levels, and more to look for causes of perpetual fatigue.
Treating Your IBS
Clinics that specialize in treating irritable bowel syndrome will be able to figure out what treatment options can help relieve your symptoms. Nowadays, there are several options for alleviating diarrhea, abdominal cramping, constipation, and other IBS symptoms. Some of these options include:
● Medication. Pharmaceuticals can help you manage your symptoms. Laxatives are commonly used to remedy constipation by either softening the stool itself, or stimulating the smooth muscles of the large intestine to move the stool through your system. For diarrhea with severe cramping, antispasmodics can help by preventing the muscle spasms that are causing the abdominal pain.
● Probiotics, which replenish your supply of gut microflora, are often helpful for treating IBS.
● Dietary changes are also important, especially if a food sensitivity has been identified. The physicians at IBS centers will be able to advise you on what changes you should make to keep your symptoms at bay. This may involve avoiding certain foods, as well as including more soluble fiber in your diet.
● Stress relief is another big factor in managing irritable bowel syndrome. Stress can definitely exacerbate the symptoms. This is partly because of the nervous system connections, or “brain-gut axis,” that allows your central nervous system to coordinate the activities of your digestive system. Stress relievers like meditation, yoga, and moderate exercise can help keep you relaxed and lower your anxiety levels, which often helps to soothe your IBS symptoms.
Joining an IBS Support Group
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are painful, inconvenient, and embarrassing. Living with IBS can be incredibly stressful, and it’s easy to feel isolated and alienated because of your disease. However, you are not alone. There are millions of people in America who are also struggling with IBS on a daily basis, and it can be incredibly helpful to ask your treatment center about finding an IBS support group. You’ll be able to connect with other people who experience the kind of struggle you are going through. At a support group, you can share coping strategies for dealing with IBS, as well as discussing what treatments you’ve found helpful. Support groups for irritable bowel syndrome are present in many communities. IBS is stressful, and knowing you’re not alone can help reduce your anxiety and depression.
If you can’t find an in-person support group in your area, you can also find forums online where you can connect with other people who have irritable bowel syndrome. IBS Forums is a website designed specifically for IBS patients to discuss the disorder. It has a general discussion board, as well as separate boards for different subtypes of irritable bowel syndrome. It has message boards for discussing different approaches to treating IBS, like diet, psychotherapy, and medications. They also have a section for arranging meet-ups in person.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a difficult, painful, and stressful condition to live with on a daily basis. There are treatment centers that specialize in IBS, and they’re one of the best places to find help for your condition. They can run comprehensive testing to determine whether your IBS has an identifiable cause, and can advise you as to what treatment plan you should pursue. You’ll find a range of treatments for your problem, including dietary changes, medication, psychotherapy, stress relief, and more. If you suffer from constant constipation, abdominal pain, or diarrhea as a result of inflammatory bowel syndrome, talk to your doctor about getting a referral to a treatment center. A gastroenterologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating IBS can do the most to help you find a solution, so that you can beat your symptoms and improve your health, happiness, and well-being.