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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS

By Sher Matsen

Irritable bowel syndrome also called IBS is one of the most common disorders of the digestive tract. Symptoms of IBS often increase with stress or after eating and include

Abdominal bloating, pain, and gas

Mucus in the stool

Feeling as if a bowel movement hasn't been completed

Irregular bowel habits with constipation, diarrhea, or both

The cause of IBS is unknown. Symptoms are thought to be related to abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines. However, when tests are done, they find no changes, such as inflammation or tumors, in the physical structure of the intestine.

IBS can persist for many years. An episode may be more then severe than the one before it, but the disorder itself does not worsen over time or lead to any serious diseases such as cancer. Symptoms tend to get better over time.

If you have not yet been diagnosed with IBS, try to rule out other causes of stomach problems such as eating a new food, nervousness, or stomach flu. Try home treatment for 1 to 2 weeks. If there is no improvement of if your symptoms worsen, make an appointment with your doctor.

Your doctor may prescribe medications for you to take in addition to doing home treatment. There are no tests that can diagnose IBS but your doctor may recommend testing to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. The amount of testing your doctor will do depends on your age, the pattern, and severity of your symptoms, and your response to initial treatment.


There is no way to prevent IBS. However symptoms often worsen or improve because of changes in your diet, your stress level, your medications, the amount of exercise you get, and for other reasons. Identify the things that trigger your symptoms. This can help you avoid or minimize attacks.

Home Treatment:

If constipation is your main symptom

Eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Add fibre rich food to your diet, but do this slowly so that you do not develop severe cramps

Add unprocessed wheat bran to your diet. Start with 15g per day then gradually increase to 60g

Try a product that contains a bulk forming agent such as Citrucel, FiberCon, or Metamucil. Start with 15g a day and drink extra water to prevent bloating

Use laxatives only if your doctor recomends them.

Get active. Increase your physical activity.

If diarrhea is your main symptom

Try the dietary suggestions for relieving constipation. Fibre rich foods and wheat bran can help reduce diarrhea

Avoid foods that make diarrhea worse. Try eliminating one food at a time then add it back into your diet and see if symptoms develop. Many people find the following foods or ingredients make it worse:








spicy foods

foods high in acid such as citrus fruits

fatty foods like bacon, sausage, butter, or oil,

dairy products



starchy foods such as bread, rice or potatoes


If diarrhea persists a non prescription medication such as lopeamide found in Imodium may help. Check with your doctor if you are using lopeamide more than twice a month.

To reduce stress

keep a log of the events in your life that seem to trigger your symptoms then try to correct the underlying issues

get regular and vigorous exercise

When To Call Your Doctor:

If you have been diagnosed with IBS and your symptoms get worse and begin to disrupt your usual activities or does not respond to home treatments

If you are becoming increasingly fatigued

If you are symptoms frequently wake you up at night

If your pain gets worse with movement or coughing

If you have abdominal pain and fever

If you have abdominal pain that does not get better when you pass a stool

If you are loosing weight and you don't know why

If your appetite has decreased

If there is blood in your stool

About The Author

Sher Matsen author of Healing Herbs For The Mind Body & Soul offers you alternative choices for treating disease and illness at © Copyright Sher Matsen, All Rights Reserved - You may republish this article with an active link to our site.


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