Don’t let bloatedness, flatulence, constipation, and diarrhea wear you down. The experts at ParkwayHealth tell you how you can manage these conditions.
It sounds common enough to be lightly dismissed. But tummy aches, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation can indicate a delicate problem known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), especially if you have been experiencing these symptoms for three out of twelve months. IBS is one and a half times more prevalent in women than in men. Doctors attribute it to our larger pool of hormones that get to women’s bowels, especially agitated during menstruation. The good news: while the cause of IBS is not known, it can be treated. When discovered through scans and with regular monitoring, as many as 85% of patients can put an end to their ordeal over a period of six weeks to six months.
Here are three things you should know about IBS
IBS is not a life-threatening condition
IBS simply means that your bowel or colon isn’t functioning optimally, which is why your body overreacts to certain foods and stress. It does not necessarily lead to an increase risk of other diseases. Before you make a dash to remove your gall bladder or appendix, there is no proof that IBS is caused by gallstones, inflammation of the appendix, or adhesions and cysts in the pelvis.
IBS also does not hurt the colon or other parts of your body or even lead to other health problems such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). While it shares some symptoms with IBD, such as tummy pain and diarrhea, it does not cause inflammation to the intestines as IBD does. In IBD, the inflammation will damage the intestines, causing them to break out in ulcers and blood, so that you get bloody stools and even fever.
Stress or certain foods do not cause IBS, but they can aggravate symptoms
The colon has many nerves, and when you are overly stressed, your body gets thrown into a hormonal broil, which could result in an overreactive colon. To put a brake on the symptoms, you need to manage your stress with relaxation therapies and regular exercise. Studies show that 20 to 60 minutes of exercise, 3 to 5 days a week can improve IBS symptoms.
Alcohol, coffee, dairy, and fatty foods have been shown to worsen IBS symptoms.
Starting a food diary to keep track of what you ate each day, what you did, and how you felt will help with the diagnosis and the treatment. That way, you can figure out if anything you do or eat makes your symptoms better or worse. If a particular food seems to make the symptoms appear or worse, cutting back on those foods will help with the symptoms.
A change in symptoms could signal trouble
IBS is generally innocuous and will not lead to any serious, long-term intestinal damage or complications. However, you should be sensitive to any subsequent changes in the patterns of symptoms. Increasing severity or frequency of symptoms, passage of blood in feces, weight loss, progressive abdominal swelling, development of bothersome symptoms at night, are all potential signs of disease other than IBS. Also going for check-ups with the same doctor who has records of your medical history is a good idea. When symptoms change, it could be a red flag for new problems and the same doctor would be better able to advise if further tests are needed.
There is no hard and fast rule on when or how often you should go for more extensive check-ups or see a specialist. Specialized tests would include gastroscopy, colonoscopy, computer scans, and ultrasound examinations. Generally, the older you are, the more extensive the investigation needed. A ballpark age to consider screening tests would be 40-45 years and above.
For more information or to make an appointment, please call our 24-hour Appointment Service Center at 400 819 6622 or visit our website at www.parkwayhealth.cn.