Irritable Bowel Syndrome - the Not so Silent Tummy Trouble
IBS - short for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world.
Top 5 Symptoms of IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS
IBS is a chronic digestive and bowel condition that over 5 million Canadians are dealing with. Over 120,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
Chronic poorly managed stress and thoughtless eating habits among other triggers, contribute to IBS attacks. Some people, such as myself, are affected by symptoms on a daily basis.
As awful as the symptoms of IBS are there is no evidence that it leads to other more serious medical issues such as cancer.
Below are 5 of the top chronic symptoms of IBS:
- Flatulence, gas and farts and the resulting aromas due to passing gas
- Frequent Diarrhea
- Frequent Constipation
- Stomach and bowel cramping and pain from gas
A patient with IBS misses an average of 13 work days a year.
Frequent flatulence affects all areas of my life. On days when flatulence is active I cannot confidently go to work or any other setting where I will be around humans due to the embarrassing nature of passing gas in front of other people. (Unless you are a 13 year old boy. Then it's just funny)
Some ways to manage the occurrence of flatulence:
- avoid foods you know you are sensitive to
- eat and drink slowly
- avoid artificial sweeteners
IBS affects more women than men.
Diarrhea is one of the worst symptoms of IBS. It can hit at any time. There is nothing worse than being at work, in a public place like the mall, or in your vehicle and have a sudden need to defecate.
Following are some of the ways to manage Diarrhea:
- avoid trigger foods; deep fried, sugars, caffeine
- take fiber
- manage stress
Obesity enhances the severity of IBS symptoms
Having your bowels bunged up is not a pleasant feeling at all. Sadly though, it pales in comparison to flatulence and diarrhea as it can be suffered in silence. Your guts may feel like you drank a quart of cement but no one will know unless you tell them.
Some ways to address constipation:
- ingest fiber (double edged sword as fiber can cause diarrhea and gas)
- drink lots of fluids, especially water
Bloating is an aggravating symptom of IBS. It makes our stomach noisy and feel tight and uncomfortable.
Some of the things you can do to ease the discomfort of a bloated stomach due to IBS:
- drink ginger tea
- wear loose clothing
- take digestive enzymes like Align Probiotic
Stomach and bowel cramps are very uncomfortable and sometimes almost debilitating. Often caused by trapped gas, having cramps can feel like there is something far more serious than gas going on in your stomach.
Some ways to manage cramping caused by gassy IBS symptoms:
- ask your doctor for medications like Buscopan, an antispasmodic drug
- go down on all fours and point your butt in the air as high as you can. This helps a lot as gas rises
- put a heating pad on your stomach
Do you have IBS?
Are you plagued with IBS?
IBS is a manifestation of a combination of things. Through journaling, diet modification and medications, I have figured out what my common triggers are. They include, but are not limited to:
- chronic stress
- poor eating habits
- poor sleeping habits
There are many other things that can trigger IBS symptoms, and they are unique to each person.
*If there is vinegar in the recipe, the pickles are NOT fermented*
Fermented Foods for Symptom Management
I was recently looking for an alternative to taking probiotics in pill form and discovered the benefits of eating fermented foods. The good bacteria grow during the fermenting process. During the fermentation process the bacteria predigest certain food components, making them easier to digest. Fermented foods provide good gut bacteria. They can improve digestion and help boost immunity. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. There are many fermented foods including yogurt and sauerkraut. My personal favorite fermented food is dill pickles. Bubbies Dill Pickles in particular, are the best! With a little research you can find out how to stretch your budget by fermenting your own vegetables in the leftover juice after all the delicious pickles are gone. One thing to note, check the ingredients before you buy products marked as fermented. If vinegar is used the product is not fermented regardless what the label says. It is pickled and although they may be delicious, they do not carry the same benefits as naturally fermented foods.
5 More Ways To Manage IBS Symptoms
Some days there is no managing IBS other than to stick close to home and be really strict about what you eat, drink and think.
Below are some suggestions to help you manage your IBS symptoms over time:
- Take a fiber supplement like Metamucel regularly
- Take a probiotic daily, like Align. Align has Bifidobacterium 35624, proven to ease symptoms of IBS
- Try your best to avoid fatty fried foods and fast food
- Take Ginger capsules or ingest fresh ginger. It may help calm inflammation in your gut
- Listen to healing meditations while falling asleep at night. This really helps me
Meditations for IBS Relief
I am comforted to know IBS is not a precursor to cancer or any other bowel disease.
I believe years of chronic poorly managed stress is the biggest contributer to the IBS I deal with almost daily now in my life.
Unmanaged stress creates a chronic fight or flight response in our bodies that tenses us up and stresses us out, twists our intestines and bowels into mess.
I have developed a much stronger set of coping skills over time that greatly reduce the symptoms of IBS when I manage to practice them daily.
I take Align (probiotic) and Metamucil (fiber) daily, restrict the amount of greasy, fatty foods I eat. I also meditate and get regular exercise.
I have also incorporated fermented foods into my diet with early positive results.
Regardless of coping strategies sometimes the only thing you can do is lay down, relax and ride it out.
It always passes, even if the relief is just for a little while.
IBS is chronic and at times almost debilitating, but with self discipline and information, we can learn to live with it.
© 2018 ShyeAnne