How to combat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Do you often suffer from abdominal pain, bloated stomach, have stomach cramps or a feeling of discomfort even after passing stool as if the evacuation has not been complete or pass mucous with stool?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, it is time you consulted your doctor. For, like scores of others you too are having a condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Though NOT a disease, IBS is a functional disorder. And it can make your life very, very stressful.
Ask Sudhir Misra, an NCC instructor. “I suffered for many years. I didn’t know that there is a treatment for it before one of my friends forced me to see a doctor. You won’t believe, it was such a problem that the thought of leaving home for more than two hours would stress me no end,” he says.
IBS is a very common condition across the globe, with India being no exception. It is estimated that around 2o per cent of people suffer from this condition some time during their life time. It is the single most common reason for which people seek gastroenterologist’s opinion. Statistics show that IBS is a major reason for people skipping work, after common cold that tops the list.
In India, most IBS patients are middle-aged men, particularly frequent travelers, workaholics, junk food eaters — those who generally eat whatever they get and whenever they get and don’t bother about timings and the nutritional value of the food.
“There is a gradual increase among young patients, in the age group of 22-40 years, seeking medical help for IBS. The reasons, they say, are mainly stress and lifestyle disorders that have a profound effect on the digestive system,” Dr Rajan Gupta says.
Since IBS is a functional disorder, simple lifestyle changes can successfully manage and cure it. Healthy lifestyle can get your bowel back in order.
IBS is tough to diagnose as stomach-ache and other symptoms may subside or go away after a bowel movement, only to recur later. So it is generally concluded by exclusion, after ruling out other health issues that cause similar symptoms such as lactose intolerance, thyroid problems, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, parasitic infections, diverticulitis (the out-pouching of the colon) and colon cancer.
If there is an uncomfortable change in your bowel movements (either diarrhoea or constipation or both) and/or you notice other associated symptoms of gastric discomfort that remain for three to four days or more, it is time to check for IBS.
While the symptoms can be cured in a few days, uprooting the syndrome totally takes nearly 48 days. IBS is handled at three levels: food, medicine and exercise along with a strict eating discipline.
For many, regular exercise, practice of relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga, and improved sleep habits help reduce stress and improve bowel routines.
Other important steps include never skipping the breakfast, avoiding spicy/oily food, avoiding pastries and milk-based products, and limiting the intake of coffee/tea. Eating at regular hours and avoiding large meals too helps in avoiding IBS.
One important thing is that once a person is cured of IBS, he/she shouldn’t take to eating with vengeance as it will cause a relapse of IBS.
Ginger is a natural remedy for IBS as it reduces gas and bloating. Ginger also reduces inflammation in the intestines and helps relax the intestinal muscles.
Regular use of fennel relieves the intestinal spasms and bloating commonly associated with IBS. The volatile oils in fennel seeds are also believed to stimulate bile for better digestion, thereby helping to ease digestive discomfort.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of both dietary fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids that are known to support the immune and digestive systems. Flaxseeds are also good for treating diarrhoea.
Studies have shown that peppermint helps to relieve symptoms of IBS, including pain, bloating, gas and diarrhoea. Peppermint contains menthol oil, which has anti-microbial properties that can help freshen bad breath and soothe digestive issues.
Yogurt is another popular home remedy for treatment of IBS-related diarrhoea due to the presence of friendly bacteria that provide several potential health benefits, including stomach health.