Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that impacts 1 out of every 7 people (1). People who have IBS may experience bloating, excessive gas, fatigue, distension, constipation and/or diarrhea.
It can be hard to determine what exactly causes IBS in some individuals as it has been linked to leaky gut, gut dysbiosis, infection, or general gut sensitivity (1).
It is important to note that bloating, gas, fatigue, distension, and altered bowel movements may happen to you but it does not mean you have IBS. For example, maybe you ate bad food, or you overindulged at a holiday party, or perhaps you ate a lot of beans, or maybe you got really nervous before a presentation. On the other hand, there are other symptoms that may be accompanying your symptoms such as blood in your stool, fever, weight loss, etc., that need immediate attention.
To find out whether or not you have IBS or perhaps another gut-related condition, visit your medical doctor and have them run stool and blood tests. Some may even suggest a colonoscopy depending on the symptoms you have. Since the symptoms can be somewhat vague, it can be hard to get a diagnosis from some medical professionals. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if needed.
Some other testing may include:
- lactose breath test
- intestinal permeability screening
- food sensitivity testing
- organic acid testing
What Should I Do if I Have IBS?
First and foremost, speak to your medical doctor but you can always work with alternative health care professionals to help manage your symptoms and support overall gut health. Some things that may be recommended include:
- avoiding food sensitivities
- practice mindful eating
- managing stress
- doing a low FODMAP diet
- taking supplements like EFAs and l-glutamine
- drinking peppermint tea and using peppermint products
- ginger and ginger tea
- increase fiber intake
- avoiding stimulants
- increasing healthy gut bacteria
- and so on
Keep in mind, that everyone with IBS may present different symptoms and severity of symptoms and what might work for one person may not work for the next. For example, some individuals experience IBS-C (constipation) while others experience IBS-D (diarrhea) or even IBS-C/D (mix of both.
If you or someone you know is experiencing IBS, I recommend taking a look at the Monash FODMAP website where they have recipes and resources for individuals experiencing IBS as well as an APP for purchase which can be helpful if you decide to follow a Low FODMAP diet.