People with irritable bowel syndrome have symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, irregular stools, and nausea, but there are no organic causes for them. What can be treated for functional gastrointestinal disease.
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What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. In functional diseases, there is no recognizable organic cause for the symptoms. In technical terms, the irritable bowel syndrome is called irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome is divided into four subtypes, depending on the symptoms that are in the foreground:
- Diarrhea type (diarrhea is in the foreground)
- Type of constipation (constipation is in the foreground)
- Pain type (pain is in the foreground)
- Type in which there is an alternation between diarrhea and constipation (constipation)
Irritable bowel syndrome: These symptoms are typical
The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are abdominal pain and cramps and changes in bowel movements. The symptoms can be combined quite differently in each person affected.
When viewed individually, the symptoms are not very characteristic, but in their entirety they are typical of irritable bowel syndrome:
Pain, cramps and abnormal sensations in different, often changing parts of the abdomen, which often improve after a bowel movement
Diarrhea or constipation or switching between the two
Changed stool composition (hard, watery or mushy)
Feeling of incomplete defecation
Mucus in the stool
Feeling of a bloated stomach
But not everyone with occasional digestive problems suffers from irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is only assumed if the symptoms persist over a longer period of time (at least three months). It is typical that the symptoms improve in phases of relaxation and worsen with severe stress. Most of those affected are symptom-free at night.
In addition to the intestinal discomfort, discomforts that do not affect the digestive tract can occur:
Mental disorders and illnesses (anxiety, depression)
Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping
Headaches, migraines and back pain
Severe pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
Detecting irritable bowel syndrome: This is how the doctor’s diagnosis works
The diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is primarily made through a detailed discussion of the symptoms (anamnesis). It is helpful if the sick keep a diary of the time, duration and intensity of the complaints.
In addition to the anamnesis, a thorough physical examination is carried out: The doctor palpates and listens to the stomach. She / he may feel the rectum with her finger (rectal examination). Usually an ultrasound examination is also carried out.
In order to be able to differentiate irritable bowel syndrome from organic diseases, it makes sense to draw blood – the blood count can be used to rule out a large number of diseases. In addition, urine and stool samples can be examined.
Further examinations such as an intestinal and / or gastroscopy and X-ray examinations are only carried out in a few cases if irritable bowel syndrome is suspected. Tests for food intolerance may be useful.
What helps with irritable bowel syndrome?
Since irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the digestive tract, the causes of which are not known, therapy aims to alleviate the symptoms.
Most of those affected only seek medical help if they have been suffering from the symptoms for a long time and are very worried about their health. Many sufferers can benefit from a change in diet, for example through the so-called FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are short-chain sugars and sugar alcohols that are found in many types of fruit and vegetables, legumes, grains, honey, milk and yogurt. Experts now believe that people with irritable bowel syndrome are sensitive to FODMAPs and that the body reacts to them with gastrointestinal complaints.
If these measures do not provide adequate symptom relief or if this is predictable based on the medical history, drug therapy may be necessary. Which medication is given depends on the patient’s complaints.
Probiotics: Bringing the intestinal flora back into balance in the case of irritable bowel syndrome
Doctors still know little about the development of irritable bowel syndrome – however, a disturbed balance within the microbiome in the intestine seems to be a factor. The microbiome is understood to be the entirety of the microorganisms that colonize the intestine, also known as the intestinal flora. Research has shown that people with irritable bowel syndrome have a higher number of strains of bacteria or their microbiome is less diverse than that of a healthy bowel.
After consulting a doctor, those affected with irritable bowel syndrome can therefore add probiotics and prebiotics to their daily menu. It can also be clarified whether the need can be met with food or whether special probiotic drugs are possible. By taking probiotics, the imbalance of the intestinal flora is corrected and symptoms of the irritable bowel are alleviated.
Diet and laxatives for constipation
In consultation with the doctor, laxatives such as lactulose or pectin can be taken at the beginning of particularly persistent constipation. Diarrhea can be treated with medication to prevent stool (such as loperamide).
Peppermint and caraway oils have proven themselves as herbal therapy options for irritable bowel syndrome and are usually well tolerated even after prolonged use. The two medicinal plants relieve, among other things, the symptoms of flatulence, cramps and bloating.
The person concerned can take herbal preparations (for example chamomile or fennel) or anti-gas agents such as dimethicone against flatulence. Spasmodic abdominal pain can be treated with a time-limited administration of antispasmodics, i.e. antispasmodic pain relievers such as mebeverine or butylscopolamine.
If the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome occur increasingly in connection with psychological stress such as stress, further measures are advisable. It is helpful if the person concerned tries to maintain a balanced basic attitude and avoid stress. Psychotropic drugs should only be taken in consultation with a doctor. If those affected suffer from additional mental disorders, psychotherapy makes sense.
Irritable bowel syndrome: Years of progress in phases
The quality of life of the person affected is usually impaired for years by irritable bowel syndrome. In many cases the symptoms subside temporarily and then increase again.
Only rarely is a person affected lifelong symptom-free after treatment. Nevertheless, irritable bowel syndrome is not a serious disease and the life expectancy of those affected is not restricted. Many of those affected fear serious secondary diseases such as cancer. However, these fears are unfounded.
Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.
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