Do you experience ,cramps and pain in stomach , relieved with bowel movements, alternating diarrhea and constipation, frequent passing of stools, passing mucus with the stools, bloatedness (gas/flatulence) and abdominal distension ? then, these signs and symptoms can be due to Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) .
➢What causes IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as Spastic Colon or Mucous Colitis, is a digestive disorder characterized by an abnormal increase in the mobility of the intestines (small and large).The exact cause is unknown but yes, as irritable bowel syndrome is a long-term disease, symptoms usually return from time to time. This may be influenced by factors such as stress, diet, or other environmental causes, like consumption of outside food for longer duration of time. Multiple other factors may also play a role in aggravating / increasing IBS, so it is very difficult to predict which may make IBS worse for a particular affected person.
To sum up the causes here are few major causes of IBS:
• Food allergies.
• Stressful events
• Long standing use of high antibiotics
• Recurrent stomach infections
• Absence of physical exercise
• Chronic alcohol and caffeine abuse
• Abnormalities in gastrointestinal secretions i,e.peristalsis ( movement along the digestive tract)
➢Who are at risk?
• Age: More cases between 35 to 50 years.
• Gender: More common in women.
• People having a family history of IBS.
• Delicate people who are stressed out very easily.
• Altered bowel movements: Few people with IBS have constipation (difficult / infrequent bowel movements/hard stools), others can have diarrhea (frequent loose stools, sometimes with an urgent need to defecation), and few experience both, like several weeks of constipation followed by a few days of diarrhea. The diarrhea typically occurs immediately after a meal or when getting up in the morning. Sometimes people with IBS pass mucus with stools.
• Abdominal pain and cramps: The abdominal discomfort of an irritable bowel ranges from sharp, cramp to a continuous, dull ache. The major sites of pain include the lower abdomen, that too, the left lower quadrant out of nine abdominal quadrants. Food may increase pain, while pain is commonly relieved by passing stools.
• Bloating, abdominal distention: Increased amounts of bloatedness and gas.
• Urgency: There is urgency to pass stools with cramps in abdomen.
• Sensation of incomplete evacuation: Patient feels like he still needs to have a bowel movement after already had one which is called incomplete evacuation.
➢Scenario in long standing IBS cases:
As symptoms are most often provoked by eating, patients sometimes skip their meals in order to avoid pain and cramping and thus may lose weight.
As a common rule, symptoms are associated with specific foods, for example milk, fatty food, some vegetables. Milk is the food that is most commonly eliminated by the patient’s diet and often leads to, calcium insufficiency.
➢How one can avoid the possibility of IBS:
• Drink a lot of water.
• Roughage rich diet consumption as fibers dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material. Many foods such as apples, beans and citrus fruits contain soluble fibers. (Fiber /Cellulose help both diarrhea and constipation. It dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material, making stools soft and easy. Apples, beans and citrus fruits contain soluble fibers on the other hand insoluble fiber helps constipation by moving material through your digestive system and adding bulk to the stool).
Add the fiber in your diet slowly and not aggressively as increasing fibers too quickly can make bloatedness. Gas and bloating usually improve as you get used to eating more fiber.
• Avoid spicy foods, avoid nuts, seeds, and popcorn as these food items can increase in bloatedness, avoid fried foods (butter, cheese etc).
• Limit milk products BUT ONLY IF you are lactose intolerant ( if you cannot digest
milk and milk products in any form)
• Avoid alcohol and Caffeine.
On the basis of signs and symptoms and basic investigations, diagnosis is made.
• Homeopathic Management:
In homeopathy a person is treated as a whole, we take into consideration the totality of symptoms, be it physical, mental and pathological. Since homeopathy believes in 7 basic principles of cure.
A thorough case taking is quintessential first step in reaching to indicate remedy in a particular case.
No two cases are alike. Individualization of each case is key to successful cure.
Dr. Puja Acharya