Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a type of gastrointestinal disorder. It is not a serious condition but becomes severe if left untreated. Its symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, bloating. Abdominal pain, mucus in the stool, cramps, etc.

In most of the cases, it’s not severe and can be treated with few lifestyle and dietary changes. It includes regular exercise, drinking plenty of fluids, include fiber-rich foods in your diet, stress management techniques, eating a balanced meal, quit smoking, avoid alcohol, etc. If not treated with the help of these home remedies then certain medications are also available for the proper treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.

irritable bowel syndrome

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. Prevention
  4. Home Remedies
  5. Treatment Options
  6. Patients Queries
  7. Reference

Symptoms

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Excess gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Change in the stool frequency or consistency
  • IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C)

Few other and very rare symptoms of IBS include:

  • Fever
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Blood in urine or stools
  • Black Stools
  • Vomiting
  • Pain or diarrhea which interrupts sleep

Causes

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Inflammation of the intestines
  • Muscle contractions in the intestines
  • Food sensitivity
  • Genetics
  • Psychological conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.)

Prevention

  • Maintain healthy lifestyle
  • Exercise regularly
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid caffeine, dairy products, and fatty foods
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Include fiber-rich foods in your diet – fruits, vegetables, etc.
  • Avoid foods that cause bloating/gas such as cabbage, cauliflower, legumes, broccoli, etc.
  • Use relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, etc.

ibs diet

Home Remedies

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is packed with ‘live cultures’, which makes it one of the effective remedies to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Those live cultures are friendly bacteria which creates a protective layer in the intestines and also helps to generate lactic acid. It also helps to flush out toxins from the body.

  • Eat 1 cup of plain yogurt few times a day. It will help to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Another option is mix 1 tsp of Isaphgol/psyllium husks to 1 cup of yogurt. Repeat it daily after lunch and dinner, for few days.

2. Ginger

Ginger is very helpful in reducing gas and bloating. It is an effective remedy to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Ginger also relaxes the intestinal muscles. It helps to improve your digestive process.

  • Mix 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger to a cup of boiling water. Let it simmer for few minutes. Strain it and mix 1 tsp of honey in it. Drink it twice or thrice daily.
  • Another option is mix 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger and 1 tsp of honey. Eat it daily before lunch and dinner. Follow this remedy for few days to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

3. Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are very helpful in preventing bloating and gas. It also helps to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Fennel seeds also eliminate fats from the digestive system.

  • Mix ½ tsp of fennel seeds to a cup of boiling water. Let it simmer for few minutes. Strain it and drink it twice or thrice daily.
  • Another option is to add few fennel seeds in veggies or sprinkle in salads.

4. Bananas

Fresh and ripe bananas are really very nutritious and helpful in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Bananas are also very helpful in reducing bloating and gas.

  • Consume 1-2 ripe bananas daily to prevent irritable bowel syndrome and also to maintain a healthy digestive system.
  • In case of diarrhea, mix 1 mashed ripe banana, 1 tsp of tamarind pulp and a pinch of salt. Eat it twice daily.

5. Carrots

Carrots are known for its high level of pectin. Pectin is an essential substance which is very helpful in treating constipation and diarrhea.

  • Extract juice from few fresh carrots. Mix few drops of lemon juice and 1 tsp of honey in it. Drink it daily for few days.
  • Cook the carrots and blend it with little water to make a puree. Add a pinch of salt in it. Eat half cup of this mixture daily for few days.

6. Oat Bran

Oat bran is an effective home remedy for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. It is loaded with iron, calcium, protein, antioxidants, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. Eating oat bran daily will provide much-needed fiber in your diet and will also help to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Add 1 part of oat bran with 2 part of water. Cook it and eat it daily like oatmeal.
  • Another option is to add 1 tsp of oat bran to smoothie, salad or yogurt.

7. Peppermint

Peppermint is very effective remedy used for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. It reduces few symptoms if IBS such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea and others. It helps to pass the food easily through the stomach.

  • Mix 1 tsp of dried peppermint to a cup of boiling water. Let it simmer for few minutes. Drink it twice or thrice daily for few days.
  • Another option is to add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to a cup of warm water. Drink it twice or thrice daily for few days.

Treatment Options

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome focuses on lifestyle modifications and dietary changes. It includes:

  • Regular exercise
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eliminate high gas foods from your diet (cabbage, broccoli, caffeine, carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages, etc.)
  • Eliminate Gluten from your diet (wheat, barley, etc.)
  • Eat healthy and balanced meal
  • Quit smoking
  • Include fiber-rich foods in your diet or take fiber supplements

Medications

Few medications are also available to treat irritable bowel syndrome and its symptoms. It includes:

Probiotics such as Yakult, Enterogermina etc. are helpful in reducing the symptoms of IBS.

Anti-diarrheal medications such as loperamide (Imodium), attapulgite (Kaopectate) and diphenoxylate/atropine (Lomotil) are very helpful to control diarrhea.

Bile acid binders include cholestyramine (Prevalite), colestipol (Colestid) and colesevelam (Welchol).

Tricyclic Antidepressants include imipramine (Tofranil), desipramine (Norpramin), nortriptyline (Pamelor) and amitriptyline (Elavil) are some of the most common medicines used to treat the symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.

Antispasmodic drugs such as dicyclomine (Bentyl), hyoscyamine (Levsin) and metoclopramide (Reglan) helps to reduce the symptoms of IBS such as cramping, pain, etc.  

SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) Antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft) and escitalopram (Lexapro).

Few other medications that reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include Rifaximin (Xifaxan), Alosetron (Lotronex), Lubiprostone (Amitiza), Linaclotide (Linzess), Eluxadoline (Viberzi) and others.

Patients Queries

When to see a Doctor?
Consult a doctor immediately if:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Iron deficiency
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea at night
  • Unexplained vomiting

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