Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Irritable bowel syndrome

More and more people are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. But what exactly is it and what are the causes of this disease? Are there healing options and what should be considered in the case of irritable bowel syndrome? You can find out all this in this report, which gives you an overview of the disease.

What is an irritable bowel?

IBS, i.e. irritable bowel syndrome, occurs in large numbers in the population. Studies show that women in particular are affected. Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the intestine. This can be the movement of the intestines or the sensitivity of the intestinal nerves.

The problem with irritable bowel syndrome is that the symptoms are similar to intolerance and no changes can be detected even with a blood test or an examination with the endoscope. As a result, diagnosing IBS is often not that easy.

What are the causes of irritable bowel syndrome?

This has not yet been found out. However, scientists assume that gastroenteritis is a possible cause, since IBS often occurs after this disease. At the same time, however, various foods can also trigger the disease. This can include tea, coffee, artificial sweeteners or even vegetables and stone fruits.

The foods contain carbohydrates that make it difficult for the intestines. The carbohydrates are fermented in the intestines, which can then lead to bloating, gas or cramps. For this reason, one hears again and again that a probiotic is supposed to help very well with irritable bowel syndrome, since the intestinal bacteria are brought back into balance.

But emotional stress such as anxiety, depression or family problems can also be a trigger for IBS. Relapses can also occur when taking hormones or medication. With so many causes that trigger irritable bowel syndrome, it is almost impossible to pinpoint a real factor as to why the condition occurs.

irritable bowel symptoms

Since abdominal pain can be caused by a wide variety of factors, it is often a major challenge for medical diagnostics.

Irritable bowel syndrome usually begins in adolescence or young adulthood. Various causes can trigger relapses, which are very irregular. However, it cannot be ruled out that you will still get IBS in adulthood, although it is rather rare. The flare-ups that occur usually start in the morning hours when you wake up. It is seldom the case that the symptoms wake you up.

Irritable bowel symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • gas
  • nausea
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • depressions
  • Angst
  • Muscle aches
  • difficulty concentrating

Therapies for irritable bowel syndrome

Diet is the key to irritable bowel syndrome. First and foremost, foods that cause gas should be avoided. At the same time, those affected should prefer a high-fiber diet and drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation. However, this varies greatly from patient to patient, as each sufferer has different foods that lead to flare-ups.

Probiotics and low-FODMAP diet in irritable bowel syndrome

As already mentioned at the beginning, a probiotic is highly recommended for irritable bowel syndrome, as it brings the intestinal bacteria back into balance. There is also the option of a low-FODMAP diet. Different foods are avoided to find out which of the foods is the cause of flare-ups.

Among other things, some patients have complaints when consuming carbohydrate-rich foods such as fermented oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. All of these carbohydrates fall under the term FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols). They are poorly digested and fermented by the bacteria in the small intestine, which can lead to discomfort and bloating.

A low-FODMAP diet lasts at least eight weeks. The transition will take a while, so you need a lot of patience. After you have avoided all foods, these are gradually introduced again. This allows you to see which foods you do not tolerate and then avoid them completely.

Small meals instead of big ones

It is also recommended that those affected eat several smaller meals instead of three large meals a day. Eating slowly can also help prevent flare-ups. In particular, patients who are prone to bloating and flatulence (increased gas formation) should avoid cabbage and foods that are difficult to digest.

Sugar substitutes, fructose and lactose

At the same time, sugar substitutes contained in medicines or foods can cause symptoms. Even fructose in fruit should only be consumed in small amounts to avoid symptoms. Lactose is also a substance that can trigger flare-ups. Those affected can use lactose-free milk and milk products to reduce symptoms.

Drugs for irritable bowel syndrome

Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome should avoid certain medications. Predominantly laxatives containing the following substances are relatively safe for sufferers. In addition to sorbitol, lactulose or stimulants, polyethylene glycol and bisacodyl or glycerin. Prescription laxatives such as plecanatid, prucaloprid, lubiprostone or linaclotide can also help people with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.

People who have abdominal cramps can resort to anticholinergic drugs. However, it should be noted that the drugs also have side effects. Dry mouth, problems urinating or blurred vision are just a few examples. Therefore, everyone should decide for themselves whether they want to take these drugs or not.

Drugs such as diphenoxylate or loperamide help with diarrhea [1]. It is also possible to reduce the production of serotonin when using alosetron . However, this is only recommended if other anti-diarrheal remedies have not helped. Furthermore, the drug is mainly used in women.

The major disadvantage of alosetron is that the risk of ischemic colitis is very high. For this reason it is only rarely used. In the case of particularly severe diarrhea caused by irritable bowel syndrome, the drug eluxadoline can also be used.

IBS patients who often suffer from diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating can be very helpful with the antibiotic antidepressants for diarrhea , abdominal pain and bloating . Therefore, irritable bowel patients are often prescribed the antidepressants desipramine or nortriptyline. They not only help with the symptoms mentioned above, but can also help against depression , sleep disorders or anxiety and reduce them.

As already mentioned, probiotics are an important helper in irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics occur naturally in our body and support the growth of important intestinal bacteria. They bring the intestines into balance and can thus act against flatulence. In addition to powders and capsules, there are also many foods that are full of probiotics. Essential oils can also relieve abdominal cramps.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.