IBS Syndrome – Information & Symptoms

In this article, you’ll find the following information about IBS:

  • IBS statistics
  • Primary symptoms
  • Secondary symptoms
  • Warning signs of other conditions
  • Medical criteria for diagnosis
  • Different types of IBS
  • The role of stress
  • Different ways of showing & relieving stress
  • Treatment plans for irritable bowel

What Is IBS Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (more commonly known as IBS) is a disorder of the digestive system. Basically, it’s a problem in the way your stomach digests food and how reacts to things like environment, diet & stress changes.

Over 15% of the population in developed countries suffers from IBS Syndrome and a weak digestive system. One in six people suffer from chronic problems with gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, constipation and alternating states between these problems.

In fact, next to the common cold, IBS is the second most common reason for medical leave from offices around the world.

Patients with an irritable bowel display high sensitivity to their diet & lifestyle. Some of them can’t handle food items like milk, wheat, spices & citrus fruits. Most people find that stress makes their stomachs a lot more sensitive (Ever experienced rumblings or diarrhea-like symptoms right before a nervous dentist visit?).

IBS does not have a known medical cause. In fact, in the medical community IBS Syndrome is more like a waste basket. After running all the tests, if the doctors can’t find a serious, fixable medical problem, then patients get the label of “Irritable Bowel Syndrome Sufferers”.

What Are The Primary Symptoms Of IBS?

For many long years, patients went without ever confiding in their doctors and really recording their experiences and symptoms. Fortunately, these days we have a pretty good idea of what symptoms IBS patients have. The Primary symptoms of an Irritable Bowel are:

  • Abdominal pain (pain in the tummy).
  • Diarrhea. Usually chronic in nature. Passing stool 3 to 8 times each day.
  • Constipation. Usually with cramping or stomach pain. Small, lumpy, hard stools like “animal droppings”
  • A sensation of incomplete emptying of the rectum after going to the bathroom.
  • Bloated feeling in the stomach, frequently feeling full of gas.
  • Urgency for needing to go to the toilet
  • Serious episodes of gas. Passing them as wind (through the anus, often foul smelling) or belching (also known as burping).

All symptoms are usually intermittent (on and off over time)

You’ve had these symptoms for at-least a quarter of the time in the last 12 months. (Meaning you’ve been affected at least 3 months of the year by intermittent symptoms)

Are There Any Secondary Symptoms Of IBS Syndrome?

Yes, you are also likely to experience secondary symptoms of IBS. Some of the secondary symptoms are:

  • Constant anxiety about your health
  • Rumbling & gurgling in the stomach
  • Tiredness, lethargy and frequent irritation
  • Belching & unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Mild depression & lack of a “spark” in life
  • Nausea, belching & vomiting.
  • Back & body ache
  • Reduced sex drive.
  • Painful sex & menstrual periods for women.

Very often, these secondary symptoms cause a vicious cycle that make the primary symptoms worse. The important thing to remember is the outcome to start seeing some sort of relief – when you start seeing relief, all aspects of your symptoms will get better together.

What Are NOT Symptoms Of IBS?

There is one last thing to note about symptoms, some signs are likely NOT symptoms of IBS. If you have these, then you may have a more serious, life-threatening situation. The following are NOT normal symptoms of IBS:

  • Blood in the stools. Bleeding does not occur with irritable bowel. IBS is a purely functional disorder. So, while the bleeding may not be serious, you should need to get it checked out by a doctor.
  • Waking up to go to the bathroom. IBS symptoms are related to the sensitivity of the bowel. And when you sleep, the bowel “sleeps” too. Although occasional IBS attacks can cause loss of sleep, if this happens more than 3-4 times a year, then its indicative of an underlying bowel disease.
  • Loss of weight. While a little weight loss is natural in diarrhea and IBS related anxiety, if the loss reaches alarming levels, then it’s time to see a doctor.
  • In women, sometimes IBS is diagnosed when the problem is really gynecological. If your pelvic organ is inflamed, bleeding from the vagina during intercourse or you see other pelvic pain symptoms, then talk to your gynecologist for PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) or endometriosis.
  • Vomiting blood (just like stools in the blood) is also a sign of something more dangerous than an Irritable Bowel.
  • Very severe abdominal pain or indigestion type pain that lasts for more than 2 days should be shown to a doctor as you may require medical care to treat the condition.
  • Unexplained increase in the size of your stomach or any other part of the body may be indicative of tumors or other unnatural growths.

As I’ve shown with the above symptoms, there are several other digestive symptoms that are signs of conditions more serious than Irritable Bowel Syndrome – if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you MUST consult with a doctor for treatment.

Do The Doctors Agree With These Guidelines?

Yes.

Medically speaking, IBS has a set of formal requirements to be diagnosed known as the Rome Criteria II which are roughly the same as the symptoms above. In the past, doctors used to adhere strictly to the Rome Criteria to label patients as having an “Irritable Bowel”.

These days, it’s not really that important. Doctors have realized that since there is no medical cause or cure for the condition, it is in everyone’s better interests if patients having chronic digestive trouble are able to:

  1. Eliminate all other dangerous diseases from the list of possibilities. To do this, doctors will probably make you go through a whole battery of tests to make sure nothing life-threatening is affecting you.
  2. Realize that the “long term solution” to an irritable bowel lies in the mind, not the body. The only way to eliminate (or even reduce) the IBS symptoms are through a healthy lifestyle that starts from a desire to simplify your life.

That’s why most good books, support groups and enlightened doctors will insist that people with irritable bowel make major changes in their lifestyle to eliminate stress, eat healthy etc.

Diarrhea, Constipation & Gas …

Another important thing to note is that many medical professionals, categorize IBS into three separate groups:

  1. Diarrhea predominant
  2. Constipation predominant
  3. Alternating

The definitions of IBS diarrhea are slightly different from typical (or traveler’s) diarrhea. Usually, diarrhea is defined by runny stools & dehydration, followed by weakness from the 5-10 rounds of stool motion from the diarrhea. Usually, travelers’ diarrhea goes away after a few days of rest, re hydration and moderate eating.

IBS diarrhea is different. You may not be passing watery stools – the important thing is that you have to go to pass stool more than average, consistently. Which means, on the average you have to go to the bathroom 4-8 times a day. Typical treatments like re hydration don’t usually help IBS diarrhea. Instead of being watery, motion is often hard and in the shape of small pellets (like rabbit droppings).

Similarly, IBS constipation differs from typical constipation in the sense that the bout is usually prolonged and cannot be helped by the usual treatments (fiber, laxatives etc). IBS constipation can be defined as having less than 3 stool motions a week, on a consistent basis.

Patients with alternating diarrhea & constipation will find that as they make an effort to stop their diarrhea using medicines, supplements or diet, the symptoms move to the other extreme and cause constipation. Constipation patients will find the reverse to be true.

Finally, the other common symptoms are gas & bloating. Almost all IBS patients feel bloated (even men jokingly describe their appearance as pregnant). When doctors encounter episodes of high gas buildup in non-IBS patients, they recommend antacids and carbon tablets. Unfortunately, these treatments often worsen the situation for IBS patients.

What Is The Role Of Stress & Anxiety

As with most other chronic diseases, eventually anxiety becomes the biggest symptom of an Irritable Bowel. Irritable bowel symptoms usually take over lives completely, and most patients are unable to lead a “normal” life. In these situations, many patients find themselves constantly wondering and worrying about their next episode or attack of IBS.

Stress is normal. At the right place, time & quantity, it is even desirable. It can add spice to your life, an extra something that stretches, excites and challenges you in your daily life.

In its positive form, stress helps athletes to win, actors to perform better, artists to be more creative, businessmen to meet their goals and all of us to avoid and survive dangerous situations. Positive stress actually helps us perform better in our life and makes us happier.

But negative stress reduces our ability to perform well. Emotions like worry, guilt, anger, hostility, fear, anxiety, boredom and frustrations in large quantities take us into trouble. In the beginning, stress brings some small symptoms (increased attention, faster heartbeat, more energy). Then we respond to the challenge and cope up with the extra demand.

But if we have too much, or have it for too long, we become overburdened.

And if we ignore the warning signs, then the final stage is exhaustion, collapse, breakdown, illness. Does your bowel become more irritable when you are under stress? If so, take comfort – you are not alone.

In fact, I’ve seen medical researches done on IBS patients and found that over 85% of IBS patients had significant improvement in their symptoms by simplifying their lives, recognizing stress symptoms and using strategies to relax more often.

Our gut has a “brain” too … it’s right above our pelvis. A special places where all the nerves of the stomach collect and receive their signals. Stress routinely spreads to our gut brain, which causes the nerves in our digestive system to work overtime and cause IBS symptoms.

How Do You Show Signs Of Stress?

Stress can show itself in many ways – physically, emotionally, or behaviorally; we all feel stress differently. Most stress symptoms are minor, but if they’re not taken care of, they can lead to a drastic downward spiral. Look through this list and recognize which patterns of stress you are showing

  • Indigestion or IBS symptoms
  • General aches & pains
  • Breathing erratically or breathlessness
  • Tension in your muscles
  • Knots in the stomach
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling restless or sleeping difficulties
  • Depression
  • Worry & Anxiety
  • Irritability or Frequent crying
  • Low self-confidence
  • Aggressiveness
  • Frequent judgment or criticism on yourself and others
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inability to communicate coherently
  • Overeating or under eating
  • Drinking or smoking more
  • Being unusually fussy about food
  • Losing interest in sex
  • Nail biting
  • Fiddling with hair
  • Becoming more accident prone
  • Allergies & asthma
  • Lowered resistance
  • Arthritis, cancer or serious diseases
  • Fatigue & lethargy

Be honest with yourself. You may not like to admit some of these symptoms. In fact, many people find it really scary to face up to their own anxieties. At the same time, spending 10 minutes on the list above may be the most useful 10 minutes of my advice you take.

As you recognize some of these symptoms, and use the strategies in this book to manage them, you’ll find that the improvement compounds up! By just taking care of a few symptoms for a few days, all the other symptoms will disappear too.

You’ll Need The Right Treatment Plan To Heal Your Irritable Digestive System

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”
– Proverb

The real key to kissing goodbye to IBS & chronic digestive problems is helping your body heal by choosing the right diet, supplements, exercise and many more little known tweaks. And that’s why I’ve built the Goodbye IBS! program from ground up – so that you can get quick relief along with long term healing.

If you have suffered from these chronic conditions, stop for a moment and think about what it’s cost you. Doctor visits, medicines, missed productivity. But probably the biggest cost is the feeling of being sick – of not having any more energy. And if you’re ready to move on to a healthier life, then Goodbye IBS! is the program for you.

This condition is hard and frustrating. It diminishes the quality of life of the sufferer and takes the focus away from the joy and happiness in their lives. So I’ve created several courses, books and programs (some are even free) to help you get started and figure out how to feel better.

So, if you want to learn more about irritable bowel relief and heal faster, here’re my recommendations for what to do next:

  • The 5 Day IBS Relief Program – A quick free email course that gives you the skinny on getting reasonably fast IBS relief. Learn more about that course here.
  • The 12 Week Goodbye IBS Recovery Plan – A comprehensive book and audio program that’s designed to help find your “trigger foods”, the medicines that work for you, and the little lifestyle tweaks you have to do to get your life back into control. Learn more here.

 

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