Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects about 6-18% people worldwide. Women are more affected than men. Some suffer with minor symptoms, but for some, the symptoms are so severe that their daily lives are affected.
What is IBS?
It is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by a group of symptoms that occur together. The severity and duration of symptoms may vary from person to person. It is a mix of abdominal pain and trouble with bowel habits.
Based on symptoms IBS can be classified into four types:
IBS-D: Diarrhea is common.
IBS-C: Constipation is common.
IBS-M: Both diarrhea and constipation are common.
IBS-U: Neither diarrhea nor constipation occurs in this case.
There are no specific lab tests to test for IBS.
Your doctor is likely to adopt the following procedures for diagnosis:
Complete Medical History
This helps your doctor to determine the frequency and duration of symptoms. The symptoms of IBS last at least three months for at least one day per week. Abdominal pain is a key factor to diagnosis.
Tests are conducted to rule out the following causes:
Food allergies or Intolerances
Celiac disease and anemia
Inflammation of Intestine
The signs and symptoms of IBS vary but are usually present for a long time. The most common symptoms include:
Abdominal Pain and Cramping
The pain usually occurs in the lower or the entire abdomen. The pain typically decreases after a bowel movement.
The stool in IBS-D is loose and watery and may contain mucus. There is an increased bowel movement and occurs suddenly.
IBS-C is the most common type. Constipation is defined as having less than three bowel movements per week. Passing a stool is difficult.
Alternating or Mixed Constipation and Diarrhea
This type is more severe with more intense and frequent symptoms which vary. Chronic recurrent abdominal pain is characteristic of this type of IBS.
Bowel movement changes
When the stool moves slowly in your intestine, it becomes dehydrated as the intestine absorbs water making it hard.. Loose stool results when there is prompt movement leaving no time for the absorption of water. Mucus may be present in the stool.
Gas and Bloating
More gas is produced in the gut as a result of altered digestion due to IBS. This causes bloating or abdominal swelling. It is one of the most persisting symptoms of IBS
IBS causes low stamina.
Sleeplessness, waking up early, feeling unrested in the morning are some sleep issues of IBS.
Anxiety and Depression
If you have IBS, you have more stress levels and vice versa.
Changes in the frequency of bowel movements
The urgency of bowel movement is different in IBS-C and IBS-D.
Headache and backache, heartburn and indigestion, loss of appetite, nausea etc. are some of the other symptoms.
The exact cause of IBS is not known. The factors that seem to play a role include:
Muscle contractions in the Intestine
Stronger and longer lasting contractions of the layer of muscles lining the walls of your intestines, can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. Weak intestinal contractions slow down the food passage leading to hard, dry stools.
Abnormalities in the Nervous system
If there are abnormalities in the nerves of your digestive system, it will cause great discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poor coordination of signals between the brain and the intestine causes pain, constipation or diarrhea.
A severe bout of diarrhea due to bacterial or viral infection can cause IBS. Bacterial overgrowth in the intestine is another cause.
People who have faced stressful events in childhood are more prone to IBS.
Oversensitive colon causes muscles to spasm leading to diarrhea or constipation.
Some foods that trigger IBS include lactose, gluten etc.
Genetic factors, diet, hormones, malfunction in the muscles that move the food through the body are some other causes.
Following are the factors that increase the likelihood of IBS:
Age- IBS occurs more frequently in people who are under age fifty.
Gender- It is more common among females.
Genetics- IBS may run in families.
Anxiety, Depression or other mental disorders - Stress aggravates IBS.
Abnormal movements of the colon, hypersensitivity to pain, food intolerances, gastroenteritis, hormones etc may also act as risk factors.
Treatment in Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, IBS falls under the category of a disease called Grahani. The digestive fire, Agni when imbalanced, leads to a weak digestive system. Food is held in the duodenum until it is completely digested by Agni. When agni is slow and sluggish, ama or toxins get accumulated . The imbalance of doshas can also affect agni causing IBS. Spicy and fatty foods, stress etc can cause this deviation.
The treatment concentrates on stabilizing the function of Agni so as to ease digestion and restore the balance of the doshas.
A detailed study of the patient and symptoms is needed.Treatment is devised according to the symptoms and condition.
The effective ways to treat IBS include:
Internal Medications- Internal medicines are advised according to the symptoms.
Panchakarma therapies and other external therapies-Treatments like Vamana, Virechana( they help in the loosening of toxins)Abhyanga (full body massage that improves blood circulation) and Shirodhara (continuous pouring of herbal oil to remove stress) etc are used to treat IBS.
Diet- Intake of fibre-rich and easily digestible food is recommended.
Yoga and Meditation- Both play an important role during the course of the treatment.
Regular Exercise- Exercise is very essential for overall health of your body.
Treatment at Jeevess
At Jeevess, IBS is treated using. Panchakarma therapy that helps to remove toxins. Shirodhara and Yoga help in relieving stress. Proper diet, medicines and regular exercise are also advised here.