5 management strategies that can help cope with Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Health

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic health condition that impacts the large intestine or colon and can cause a variety of uncomfortable and disruptive symptoms and is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. The exact cause of IBS is still unknown but there are several factors that are believed to contribute to its development.

5 management strategies that can help cope with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, reduce IBS symptoms (Pexels)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Vishakha Kalikar, GI Surgeon and Laparoscopic Surgeon at Zen Multispeciality Hospital in Chembur, highlighted the causes as –

1. Abnormal gastrointestinal motility: In individuals with IBS, the muscles in the walls of the intestines may contract abnormally, causing the intestines to either move too quickly (resulting in diarrhea) or too slowly (resulting in constipation).

2. Visceral hypersensitivity: People with IBS may have a heightened sensitivity to pain and discomfort in their gut, leading to exaggerated sensations in response to normal bowel movements or gas.

3. Changes in gut microbiota: The gut is home to trillions of bacteria that play a crucial role in digestion and overall gut health. Alterations in the composition of gut microbiota may contribute to IBS symptoms.

4. Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, and other psychological factors are known to influence gut function and may trigger or exacerbate IBS symptoms in susceptible individuals.

According to him, the symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person and may include –

1. Abdominal pain or discomfort: This is the most common symptom of IBS and is often described as cramping or aching in the lower abdomen. The pain may be relieved after a bowel movement.

2. Changes in bowel movements: IBS can cause alterations in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both. Stool consistency may also vary, with some people experiencing loose or watery stools, while others may have hard or lumpy stools.

3. Bloating and gas: Many people with IBS report feeling bloated and passing excessive gas, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing.

4. Other symptoms: Some individuals with IBS may also experience other symptoms such as mucus in the stool, a feeling of incomplete evacuation after bowel movements and an urgency to have a bowel movement.

While there is no cure for IBS, there are several management strategies that can help individuals cope with the condition and reduce their symptoms. As per Dr Vishakha Kalikar these include –

1. Lifestyle changes: Making certain changes in diet and lifestyle can have a significant impact on managing IBS symptoms. Identifying and avoiding trigger foods, such as fatty or spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol, can help reduce symptoms. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and staying hydrated can also be beneficial. Regular exercise, stress management techniques, and getting enough sleep can also help manage symptoms.

2. Medications: Over-the-counter medications, such as antidiarrheals or laxatives, can be used to relieve specific symptoms of IBS. Prescription medications, such as antispasmodics or low-dose antidepressants, may also be prescribed by a healthcare provider to help manage symptoms.

3. Gut-directed therapies: Certain therapies, such as probiotics or peppermint oil capsules, may help improve gut health and reduce IBS symptoms in some individuals.

4. Psychological support: Since stress and other psychological factors can influence IBS symptoms, seeking support from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, may be beneficial.

5. Patient education: Educating oneself about IBS, understanding triggers, and learning effective coping strategies can empower individuals to manage their symptoms better and improve their quality of life

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