Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Your digestive system processes and absorbs a wide variety of nutrients each day, so you can reasonably expect some irritation or an upset stomach from time to time. However, constant, severe digestive pain is far from the norm. It almost certainly points to an underlying condition causing your stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed.
If you experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or other intestinal issues on a daily basis, you may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by regular episodes of abdominal pain and disruptive digestive events. The condition itself is not fatal by any means, but if left untreated for long enough, it can result in poorer health outcomes. These include nutrient malabsorption and deficiencies, depression, anxiety, inflammation, chronic pain, fatigue, and a weakened immune system.
In addition to these associated health complications, IBS can also significantly reduce quality of life. IBS is a chronic illness, meaning most people will experience symptoms their entire lives. Some people may have worse symptoms than others, but on the whole, an IBS diagnosis means lifelong pain, discomfort, and daily inconveniences.
Causes of IBS
IBS doesn’t have a clearly defined cause, but experts think it may be related to a hyperactive immune system or overly sensitive colon. From a functional perspective, we believe IBS has many causes, including bile acid malabsorption, imbalanced gut microbiota, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), adverse reactions to certain foods, gastrointestinal (GI) nerve sensitivity, dysfunctional GI muscle movement, and disrupted communication between the brain and gut. Certain lifestyle factors, like excessive stress or poor diet, can also trigger the development of IBS.
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Symptoms of IBS
IBS can have any number of digestive symptoms, but the most common signs include:
Changes in Stool Consistency
Mucus in Stool
Does IBS Affect Women Differently?
Because female reproductive organs interact closely with the digestive system on both hormonal and structural levels, IBS can create additional symptoms for women, such as:
Pain During Intercourse
IBS is also linked to a higher risk of chronic reproductive complications including:
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
Is Diarrhea a Sign of IBS?
Yes, the most common form of the disease is IBS-D (diarrhea), and it’s the symptom most closely associated with the condition. Diarrhea is likely one of the most disruptive symptoms of IBS, making it difficult to leave home for long periods of time. Fortunately for some, IBS can fluctuate between periods of diarrhea and constipation.
Is Constipation a Sign of IBS?
Also yes. IBS-C (constipation) is another common form of the disease. Although constipation isn’t nearly as urgent as diarrhea, it can still cause significant abdominal discomfort. Likewise, bloating is typically experienced alongside constipation with IBS-C. These two symptoms together can substantially reduce quality of life and impair digestive function.
How We Treat IBS
IBS remains somewhat of a mystery to medical providers who approach the body with a modern view. At East Wind, we always begin with testing and a full evaluation of your health, lifestyle, and all possible factors that could be contributing to bowel inflammation.
Our clinical team will look at each result and determine which triggers are causing digestive imbalances. We work with each patient to build the right treatment plan that restores function and improves gut health. This can include a nutrition plan, sleep and exercise adjustments, and other impactful lifestyle changes.
Medication for IBS
For more severe cases of IBS, lifestyle adjustments may not be enough to relieve symptoms. We recommend additional medical therapy for these patients. Instead of prescribing pharmaceuticals, we use natural supplements to gently heal the digestive system by:
Diet Changes to Heal IBS
Because the root cause of IBS often lies in our diet, we believe that nutritional counseling is the first step to healing. The United States is guilty of adding excessive amounts of sugar, preservatives, and other harmful ingredients to our food that only serve to irritate the gut. By cutting out these triggers, we help our patients properly absorb nutrients and reduce systemic inflammation.
One of these nutritional changes is the low FODMAP diet, which was designed to limit the ingestion of hard-to-digest carbohydrates like lactose and fructose. After a full elimination, we slowly reintroduce these foods to determine whether or not they are contributing to intestinal distress.
At East Wind, we use this diet and other nutritional changes to help our patients finally find relief from IBS.
Relieving Abdominal Pain
Increasing Fiber Intake
In addition to supplements, probiotics are also very effective at treating IBS. In many cases, patients present with an imbalanced gut microbiome alongside an irritable bowel. Your microbiome is composed of “good” bacteria that help break down foods that your body can’t digest on its own. Without these bacteria, your intestines cannot absorb certain nutrients and instead become inflamed. Taking probiotics not only restores your good bacteria but also strengthens intestinal walls and heals your system as a whole.
If you think you have IBS, take charge of your health today by scheduling an appointment with our team. Together, we’ll find ways to holistically manage your IBS and help you build a healthier life.
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