Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), better known as irritable bowel, is a chronic functional disorder of the digestive tract. Its main symptoms are abdominal pain or discomfort, abdominal swelling and altered bowel habit (constipation or diarrhea).
IBS is the most diagnosed gastrointestinal disorder and the second cause of work absenteeism after the common cold. Between 10-20% of the population experiences the symptoms of IBS throughout their lives, although only 15% of them request a medical evaluation.
There are numerous treatments and therapies available to relieve the symptoms of IBS. The chronic nature of IBS and the adjustment that includes the control of symptoms can frustrate both patients and physicians who are interested.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Although there is no precise explanation why this pain happens, and there are no early tests for discovering Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you can still know when you are suffering from it.
The main symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is abdominal pain accompanied by changes in the frequency or consistency of bowel movements, presenting either episodes of diarrhea or constipation.
It is a chronic disorder, characterized by periods of exacerbation that alternate with periods of remission of symptoms. Its prevalence is 5-15%, it is more common in young adults and begins to decrease after 50 years.
Abdominal pain may be diffuse or localized in the lower hem abdomen, of moderate intensity, which is relieved after defecation, sleep, and is usually related to the ingestion of food.
Alarming Signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Perhaps you will miss any of the simple signs of IBS, and you will think everything is okay, and you are just having a bad day, however, with these symptoms you need to go to the hospital for an urgent check-up immediately.
- Abdominal distension, mucus in the stool, rectal tenesmus (feeling of not being satisfied after defecation) or leakage of feces (fecal incontinence), anal pain, early satiety when eating, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and flatulence.
Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Currently, there is no curative treatment for this entity. Irritable Bowel Syndrome occurs in “outbreaks” periods with symptoms and sometimes no symptoms at all. To deal with IBS, there are two approaches, one with actions in habits of life and another from the pharmacological point of view.
People who suffer from this disease should be clear that is a disorder that affects the quality of life, however, does not result in tumors or other serious illnesses. There are no miraculous products or treatments that eliminate this condition, but for sure there are some things that can make you feel better.
Things to Consider If You Have IBS
As a first rule if you have IBS is to avoid tobacco and alcohol. Other foods include spices, caffeine, fats, and highly spiced foods, and in case you notice that some food is making you worse, you should stop consuming it.
It is very advisable to do physical activity for around 30 minutes a day, as it is appropriate for the physical condition of each person. This fact is already known for pathologies that affect the cardiovascular system, as it is equally beneficial for our digestive system, not only to help improve their mobility, but for the benefits of exercise at the level of the central nervous system and neurotransmission.
It is beneficial to avoid stressful situations or if it is not possible to change the way to deal with them to minimize their impact on our health.
Pharmaceutical Approach of IBS
There are many drugs that your gastroenterologist will indicate depending on the symptoms you have. They can be used in monotherapy or combining medications according to predominant symptoms.
- Laxatives: Patients may use laxatives in cases with a predominance of constipation. They are useful although with limitations.
- Antidiarrheals: These are drugs that are used in situations where diarrhea predominates. Within this group, we have medications with loperamide, codeine, and ion exchange resins.
- Spasmolytics: These are drugs that act on the smooth muscle fiber of the digestive tract, inhibiting its motility. They tend to improve abdominal pain in a high percentage of patients.
- 5HT4 serotonin receptor agonists: these drugs stimulate intestinal motility and reduce visceral sensitivity, thus improving intestinal transit and improving pain.
- Linaclotide: is a peptide that binds to the intestine guanylate cyclase C receptors. This causes a reduction in intestinal sensitivity, reducing abdominal pain and increasing the amount of fluid that is produced at the intestinal level and blocking its absorption, thereby improving intestinal transit. It is used in cases with moderate or severe constipation without previous treatment response. It has an excellent security profile, being very safe.
- Antidepressants: they have been used not to regulate the mood, but because of its mechanism of action at the intestinal level. There are two groups, the tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, and the SSRIs, which are more modern and have a better safety profile, including paroxetine.
- Probiotics: Their role is not yet fully demonstrated, but it seems that they improve the meteorism and abdominal distension.
There are some things you can do to make yourself feel better if you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. Always make sure you eat small meals (possibly with a higher amount of fiber) and more frequently so your stomach can process the foods better. Also, pay proper attention to foods which make you feel uncomfortable or experience any of the symptoms above.