Are you experiencing heartburn, cramping, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea? Perhaps you thought your gut distress was the result of anxiety or poor diet. But what if it is caused by something else? There are many causes of gastrointestinal (GI) distress including stress, anxiety, too much or too little fiber in the diet, parasites, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), food allergies, and overindulgence among others. One very common cause of GI discomfort, though, is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.
Between 25 and 45 million Americans suffer from IBS. It is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine and is caused by the improper function of the intestinal muscles. Most cases of IBS are never properly diagnosed because many patients don’t seek medical attention (Source: Mayo Clinic). With IBS, there is a communication breakdown between the brain and intestines that creates a variety of symptoms which vary from person to person. In some patients, the muscles of the intestinal wall contract too strongly, causing gas, bloating, and diarrhea. In others, the contractions are too weak which leads to constipation. The result is pain and gut distress (Source: WebMD).
To find out if you have IBS, consult a physician. While there is no definitive test for IBS, your doctor will likely recommend food allergy testing, a colonoscopy and blood tests to eliminate other possible causes of your GI distress. If a diagnosis of IBS is reached, your doctor will help you set up an IBS treatment plan that works for you based on your unique symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no pill to correct the disorder. You will simply have to manage the symptoms.
People with IBS generally have sensitive intestines that can easily trigger IBS symptoms. These triggers include stress, food, hormones, genetics, antibiotic usage, as well as other health conditions (Source: Stop Colon Cancer Now). To find out if your gut distress is the result of IBS may require some sleuthing. This post may help you with ideas for improving gut health.
Your gut distress may be more than stress-induced; it could be caused by IBS. Discover your triggers and consult a doctor for help treating the symptoms. With a little detective work, you may be able to figure out what is causing your gut distress and learn how to treat the uncomfortable symptoms with success.