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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Definitions and facts

Ouch! Eina! Why!? This is normally the course of thoughts that run through your mind as you realize your IBS is flaring up again. Followed by where is the nearest bathroom or how can I get home as soon as possible without being noticed. It is painful. Physically and emotionally. The worst part is when your family and friends look at you like you are a crazy person because just a moment ago you were all smiles and giggles.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen, swelling, bloating, nausea and changes in your bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both. With IBS, you have these symptoms without any visible signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract. If you have been rushed to the hospital before, thinking that you will not see the sun come up the next day, only to hear that there is nothing wrong and that you need to take these laxatives and rest, you will understand the frustration.

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders, which doctors now call disorders of gut-brain interactions, are related to problems with how your brain and your gut work together. These problems can cause your gut to be more sensitive and change how the muscles in your bowel contract. If your gut is more sensitive, you may feel more abdominal pain and bloating. Changes in how the muscles in your bowel contract lead to diarrhea, constipation, or both.

Are there different types of IBS?

Yes, there are three main different types of IBS. These three types of IBS are based on different patterns of changes in your bowel movements or abnormal bowel movements. Sometimes, it is important for your doctor to know what type of IBS you have. Some medicines work only for some types of IBS or make other types worse. Your doctor might diagnose IBS even if your bowel movement pattern does not fit one particular type. Many people with IBS have normal bowel movements on some days and abnormal bowel movements on other days.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are extreme pain in your abdomen, often related to your bowel movements, and changes in your bowel movements. These changes may be diarrhea, constipation, or both, depending on what type of IBS you have. Other symptoms of IBS may include :
* bloating
* the feeling that you haven’t finished a bowel movement
* whitish mucus in your stool
* women with IBS often have more symptoms during their period

IBS can be painful but doesn’t lead to other health problems or damage your digestive tract. It is a chronic disorder, meaning it lasts a long time, often years. However, the symptoms may come and go.

What causes IBS?

Doctors aren’t sure what causes IBS. Experts think that a combination of problems may lead to IBS. Different factors may cause IBS in different people.

Certain problems are more common in people with IBS. Experts think these problems may play a role in causing IBS. These problems include

  • stressful or difficult early life events, such as physical or sexual abuse
  • certain mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and somatic symptom disorder
  • bacterial infections in your digestive tract
  • small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, an increase in the number or a change in the type of bacteria in your small intestine
  • food intolerances or sensitivities, in which certain foods cause digestive symptoms
  • research suggests that genes may play a role in the development of IBS

Changes to what you eat and other lifestyle changes

Changes in what you eat may help treat your symptoms. You can try one of the following changes:

  • eat more fiber
  • avoid gluten
  • follow a special eating plan called the low FODMAP diet

Research suggests that other lifestyle changes may help IBS symptoms, including

  • increasing your physical activity
  • reducing stressful life situations as much as possible
  • getting enough sleep


Your doctor may also recommend probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms, most often bacteria, that are similar to microorganisms you normally have in your digestive tract. Researchers are still studying the use of probiotics to treat IBS.

To be safe, always talk with your doctor before using probiotics or any other complementary or alternative medicines or practices. If your doctor recommends probiotics, talk with him or her about how much probiotics you should take and for how long.

Mental health therapies

Your doctor may recommend mental health therapies to help improve your IBS symptoms. Therapies used to treat IBS include

  • cognitive behavioral therapies, which focuses on helping you change thought and behavior patterns to improve IBS symptoms
  • gut-directed hypnotherapy, in which a therapist uses hypnosis—a trance-like state in which you are relaxed or focused—to help improve your IBS symptoms
  • relaxation training, which can help you relax your muscles or reduce stress.

Gut-directed hypnotherapy session

With gut-directed hypnotherapy we can work together to find the perfect solution for your unique situation.