If you have IBS you know the struggle – bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and pain.
Did you know that IBS is not just about your belly? It affects the entire body.
But what does this diagnosis even mean and how can you treat it and get better?
It’s crucial to find the cause so you can heal you belly and your body.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
You know that feeling you get when you’re just not feeling yourself? Like your stomach’s doing a dance routine, and you just can’t catch up? Or maybe your gut is in knots, and nothing seems to help? You’re not alone. There’s a medical term for what you’re experiencing: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
IBS is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in the country. It affects about 45 million people in the United States, although many people with IBS don’t seek treatment.
If you’re one of those people, you might wonder what is happening inside your body and how to get rid of it once and for all. We’re here to help!
What is IBS?
The name says it all: it’s a “syndrome,” which is just a collection of symptoms. This syndrome suggests that your digestive system is simply irritable, and there’s nothing you can do about it—but that’s not the whole answer! The truth lies in finding out what’s irritating this little organ.
IBS is a condition that causes abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. People with IBS may also experience an urgency to have a bowel movement and find it difficult to control the timing of their bowels.
IBS symptoms typically come and go in bouts over time. They can be debilitating at times, but most of the time, they are mild enough that you can manage them without medication or other treatment.
What are the Symptoms of IBS?
You don’t have to be a doctor to know that something’s not right. IBS is a chronic condition that can cause abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. If you have IBS, you may have symptoms like:
-Diarrhea or constipation
-Urgency to have a bowel movement
What Causes IBS?
The root cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a problem with your gut bacteria. The microbiome is a community of microorganisms that live in your gut and help you digest food. You have trillions of microbes in your body, which help you break down your food and absorb nutrients. When something in your gut disrupts your homeostasis, it can stop working as well as they should.
As the name suggests, IBS is characterized by the symptoms resulting from a disrupted microbiome. Here are some of the microbiome issues that often lead to IBS:
One of the main causes of IBS is a condition called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), in which too many bacteria are in your small intestine. This condition occurs when the normal balance of bacteria (known as your microbiome) gets thrown off and starts to grow in the wrong place.
The most likely cause of this shift is antibiotics. Taking antibiotics affects not only your large intestine but also your small intestine, killing off both good and bad bacteria. When you kill off too many good bacteria, it can be hard for your body to recover from that damage.
Overuse of Antibiotics
We live in a world where people are constantly getting sick, and often they go to the doctor and receive a prescription for an antibiotic. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria, but they also kill off good bacteria in your body. The result is that when your body has no more good bacteria, it struggles to stay healthy because it can’t fight off pathogens on its own.
Some antibiotics can also cause diarrhea caused by an imbalance in gut flora after taking antibiotics. And this is among the most common causes of IBS. Antibiotics can also cause inflammation in the bowel, which may lead to IBS symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Antacids and acid-blocking drugs
Antacids and acid-blocking drugs are among the most common medications to treat acid reflux, gastritis, and GERD. They do this by lowering the amount of acid your stomach produces.
Unfortunately, these drugs mess with your microbiome, a collection of bacteria in your body that helps regulate digestion and affects how well you break down food. As a result, some people develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms after taking these medications for a long time.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you might have heard that it’s because you don’t make enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in dairy. That’s true—but maybe not for the reason you think!
You see, the problem isn’t really the lack of lactase—it’s that your gut bacteria aren’t making enough of it for you.
In fact, if you’ve been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, it’s probably because your microbiome isn’t producing enough lactase and other enzymes that help digest food. This is why your body can’t break down and absorb all that yummy dairy goodness!
Hence, lactose intolerance is also linked to other gut problems, like IBS. It’s easy to see how the lactose intolerance-IBS connection works. If you don’t have enough lactase, your body can’t break down the sugar in dairy products. So, they pass through your digestive system undigested and into your colon, where bacteria feast on them! This usually leads to some pretty uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, or constipation—all of which are common in IBS.
Sugar alcohols are a type of sweetener that is found in many processed foods, including ice cream and chewing gum. They are often added to foods as a substitute for sugar because they have fewer calories and carbs than the real thing—but they’re not exactly good for you! Sugar alcohols can cause bloating, diarrhea, and gas in some people, especially those with IBS who have trouble digesting them.
What’s worse is that sugar alcohols appear to be bad for your microbiome—the bacteria in your gut that helps you digest food. Studies have shown that eating these sweeteners can affect the balance of microbes in your microbiome and make it harder for you to absorb nutrients from food!
How To Treat IBS?
If you’ve ever suffered from the symptoms of IBS, you know how much it can affect your life. IBS can make it difficult to go about your daily routine, and it can be embarrassing to talk about. But there are ways to manage it so that you can get back to living a normal life.
Eliminate The Trigger
The first step to treating IBS is figuring out what causes it. While some people with IBS have a very clear trigger—like milk or sugar alcohol—for most people, it’s more difficult to pin down. That’s why we recommend eliminating all the possible triggers one by one until you find the culprit.
Once you have identified your trigger, try to avoid them as much as possible. If that’s not possible, try to lessen their impact on your life, so they don’t aggravate your symptoms as much. It can be helpful to keep a journal of when they occur and how severe they are so you can see if there’s a pattern or anything else triggering them.
Repair The Damage
When you have IBS, it’s easy to feel like your entire gastrointestinal system is out to get you. But in reality, there’s a lot of damage that can happen to your intestines—and it’s not their fault!
But the good news is that there are supplements that can help repair this damage and get your gut back on track. These include:
Probiotics help to maintain healthy gut flora and improve digestion. They also reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, which is often associated with IBS. A probiotic supplement will contain various strains of bacteria that have been shown to be effective in treating IBS.
Collagen is one of the most important building blocks in our bodies—it’s what keeps our skin youthful and elastic, helps us grow healthy hair and nails, and helps us keep our joints flexible. It also keeps our digestive tract strong and able to withstand stress like overeating or eating foods that trigger stomachache. When you’re suffering from IBS, it makes sense why this would be one of the first places to start looking for relief.
Short-chain fatty acids
Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are essential for maintaining the integrity of your intestinal lining and reducing inflammation. Moreover, these acids are absorbed into the colon, where they help to break down food and give relief from gas and bloating. They also help to repair any damage done by inflammation in the gut wall.
By now, you’ve probably learned that IBS is not a disease or condition but rather a collection of symptoms that different things can trigger. If you suffer from IBS, there are many ways to manage your symptoms and get on with your life. The most important step is to learn more about IBS and the treatment options available. If you want to know more about IBS and how to manage it, book an appointment with us today!