Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS for short, is a chronic condition that affects 7-21% of the general population. It is the most common digestive system condition. If you are diagnosed with IBS, you probably already know that it can severely impact your productivity in daily life, and at work.

 

How do I know if I have IBS?

The symptoms of IBS are:

  • Presence of abdominal pain, discomfort or cramping
  • Bloating
  • Altered bowel habits: whereas women often experience constipation, men are more likely to complain of diarrhoea. Some patients experience a mix of both constipation and diarrhoea
  • Nausea

  

Factors that contribute to the development of IBS

Multiple factors seem to contribute to the development of IBS. Among these are:

 

  • Abnormalities in gut motility
  • A gut infection
  • Altered brain-gut interaction
  • Altered intestinal permeability
  • Altered intestinal and colonic microbiome a.k.a. the bacteria that inhabit our digestive system
  • Psychosocial stress

 

Dietary treatment of IBS

Many IBS patients restrict their diet to prevent their symptoms, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies. However, true food allergies are not common in IBS patients. Having said that, food intolerances or sensitivities are commonly reported.

 

Studies have shown that a low FODMAP diet can help with the management of IBS. FODMAPs are Short-chain, poorly absorbed, highly fermentable carbohydrates that are found in foods such as :

 

  • Wheat
  • Onion
  • Some fruits and vegetables
  • Sorbitol
  • Some dairy

 

Our Dietician has seen a 75% success rate with the low FODMAP diet in IBS patients that she has seen.

 

Consuming a gluten-free diet, certain fibres, and probiotics can also help with the symptoms of IBS.

 


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Mental health issues and IBS

Among patients with IBS, mental health problems including depression and anxiety, are very common. Stress as well as other psychosocial factors predispose an individual to the development of IBS. In fact, often, patients with IBS report having had experienced sexual, verbal, or physical abuse in childhood/adolescence. Once diagnosed with IBS, mental health problems often exacerbate the symptoms. As such seeking psychological treatment may benefit patients with IBS.

  

How can our services help you?

Our experienced dietician will help you integrate good food choices into your daily life, explain FODMAP Diet, and create a plan of action to minimize IBS symptoms.

 

Our psychotherapist team will carefully listen to your story, and identify any psychological factors which may be triggering your IBS symptoms. They will provide you with practical tools to better manage these psychological issues.

 

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