IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
Twenty percent of American adults suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is more prevalent in women and begins before age 35 in half of those who have it. Symptoms include crampy abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, and bloating. IBS may be brought on by stress, gas, certain foods or large meals, medications, caffeine or alcohol. It does not lead to cancer and isn't related to Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. IBS can disable those who suffer with it.
Research indicates that causes include bacterial infection, very mild celiac disease (intolerance to gluten), or highly sensitive pain receptors in the GI tract. Doctors diagnose IBS by its symptoms. Doctors also use tests to rule out other diseases. A doctor may use a comprehensive medical history and the review of a detailed food journal to diagnose IBS.
Doctors prescribe medications to control the symptoms. Fiber supplements or laxatives may be used for constipation, antidiarrheals to control diarrhea, and antispasmodics to control spasms of the colon and abdominal pain. Most medicaions have side effects which may be problematic. Discuss medicative treatments carefully with your physician. Other treatments include stress management, avoidance of foods which trigger an upset, gradual increase in the amount of dietary fiber, consumption of 6-8 glasses of water daily, smaller meals more often, and avoidance of things which cause gas such as carbonated beverages and chewing gum.
Information in this article is from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. For information, check out www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov. If you have questions, please contact Nicki Reynolds, R.N. or Kristen Thompson, R.N. at the parish nurse office at (314) 837-1090.
In His Service,
Nicki Reynolds, RN