Virtually everyone experiences digestive disorders from time to time, usually brought on by illness or change of diet. Gas, cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea happen occasionally, then the cause of the problem passes and so does your gastrointestinal distress. When you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), however, these symptoms recur frequently and your condition is chronic. As many as 45 million people may share your condition in the United States.
Even though as much as 15% of the American population suffers from IBS, many people simply cope with the symptoms and don’t seek medical help. They may be unaware that treatments can help, or they may not pursue help due to the stigma of gastrointestinal problems. Dr. Ven Kottapalli and the team at GI Physicians Inc. specialize in IBS treatment. Contact their Lima, Ohio office to assess your symptoms.
The origins of IBS
There’s no precise reason for IBS known to medicine, though there are suspicious factors thought to play a role. These factors include:
- Changes to intestinal bacteria: the microflora (bacteria) in the intestines of an IBS patient differ from those of a normal person, which may contribute.
- Immune system response: IBS patients have evidence of immune system activity in their intestines, a sign of active inflammatory response.
- Muscle contractions: muscle layers surrounding your intestines contract to move food and if these become abnormal, stronger, or weaker, they could create IBS symptoms.
- Nerve dysfunction: coordination of motor nerves or abnormal sensory nerve activity change the way your intestines work and report discomfort.
- Bacterial reasons: severe diarrhea caused by bacteria or viruses may contribute to IBS, and bacterial overgrowth could also be a factor.
One way to cope with IBS includes identifying and avoiding triggers, though the role of these triggers isn’t fully understood. Hormones play a role, evidenced by the fact that women are twice as likely to have IBS than men, and IBS symptoms tend to be worse around menstrual periods with their rapidly changing hormones.
Food intolerances and allergies don’t appear to cause IBS, but they can trigger IBS symptoms. Beans, cabbage, carbonated drinks, citrus, dairy, and wheat may boost IBS activity in some patients. Likewise, stress doesn’t cause IBS, but it can make symptoms more frequent or more intense.
Constipation and IBS
Almost half the people with IBS have a type called constipation-predominant IBS. When the effects of IBS slow the speed of stool, walls of the large intestine extract too much water, resulting in the stool becoming hard and difficult to pass. When due to IBS, your constipation could be painful, unlike other types which generally don’t include discomfort.
The abdominal pain from IBS-related constipation usually eases once you have a bowel movement. However, you may also experience the sensation that your bowel movement is incomplete, which could lead to extra straining.
If you have fewer than three bowel movements a week, you may have constipation, and if this includes discomfort and pain, you could be suffering from IBS. Contact Dr. Ven Kottapalli and the team at GI Physicians Inc. to schedule an appointment by phone or online. Take back control of your life and book your consultation today.