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IBS: Uncommon name, common occurrence

  • Published at 09:32 am September 6th, 2013

Have you ever wondered why people get butterflies in their stomach before giving a speech on stage? Or why an upcoming appointment with a boss or before an interview can cause an attack of intestinal cramps? The reason is that we may have two brains.

The second brain is the gut, known as the enteric (related to intestine) nervous system. This could be the origin of the term “gut feeling.” This is experienced by many people in a regular manner. And it presents a disease called Irritable Bowel Syndrome, in short IBS.

In fact, IBS affects approximately 10-20% of the population. It is the disturbances of the colon function and is characterised by symptoms of abdominal discomfort or pain and altered bowel habit with diarrhea or constipation or both in alteration.

IBS was called colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, nervous colon, and spastic bowel.

In our country the disease is known as Puraton Amashoy (old or chronic dysentery). The name was changed to reflect the understanding that the disorder has both physical and mental causes and is not a product of a person’s imagination.

IBS can be easily diagnosed by physical exam and a complete medical history. When a person has abdominal pain or discomfort at least three times per month for the last three months without any other disease or injury that could explain the pain, may be a case of IBS. The pain or discomfort of IBS may occur with a change in stool frequency or consistency or may be relieved by a bowel movement.

What causes IBS?

The causes of IBS are not well understood. Researchers believe a combination of physical and mental health problems can lead to IBS.

Brain-gut signal problems, GI motor problems, hypersensitivity, mental health problems, bacterial gastroenteritis, altered body chemicals, food sensitivity are the possible causes.

It is said that the gut produces natural pain killers and mood enhances to overcome pain or anxiety. And it is linked to dietary habits, sleep and the trillions of friendly bacteria that coexist symbiotically in our gut.

It could be a combination of various disturbances in the interaction between the gut or intestine, the brain and the autonomic nervous system. So far, researches have not yet been able to pin-point the cause of this syndrome.

Another research on the cause

Unknowingly, you almost certainly consume antibiotics in animal products. Pharmaceuticals produce more than 70 million kgs of antibiotics each year and animals receive more than 65% of them. Growers routinely give big helpings of antibiotics to cattle, poultry to prevent infections from spreading. But it finally gets into the human food chain and disrupts the normal flora of the gut.

Researchers estimate that by consuming just one glass of commercially processed and packaged milk, you unknowingly ingest residues of as many as one hundred different antibiotics (WX Douglass MD, the Milk Book). To augment further, 95% of children are treated with more antibiotics for simple reasons.

Adults are not spared either. The antibiotics disrupt the intestinal bacteria ratios. This is called dysbiosis. Continuous disruptions to the internal gut environment can cause diarrhea, constipation, IBS.

Most doctors have refused to see the connection of these diseases to the constant bombardment of microbial population in the gastrointestinal tract.

Unfortunately, people who are sick, seek out foods such as milk, biscuits or cookies, white bread, rich porridge and other ‘light foods’ laden with sugar. These are the very foods containing refined carbohydrate that promote the rapid growth of disease-causing bacteria.

 How is IBS treated?

Though there is no cure for IBS, with effective counseling, dietary and lifestyle intervention, and use of prescription medications, IBS can be effectively managed.

Treating infrequent or mild symptoms with over-the-counter medication is effective for most patients.

If symptoms are persistent, however, it’s important to see respective physician because the excessive use of prescribed medications can actually lead to more gastrointestinal symptoms. If symptoms do not improve with changes in diet and lifestyle, recommended medications are available for people with IBS.

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