what is ibs with constipation - Digestive Disorders: Facts & Figures
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Digestive Disorders: Facts & Figures

Most people suffer from some sort of digestive disorders during their lifetime. It might be the common and less serious digestive system disorders like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome or something more serious like acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Chron's disease. Digestive disorders and diseases affected 60 to 70 million Americans in 1996 according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2002, 234,000 deaths were attributed to digestive system disorders and diseases. While more than 27,000 of these were due to liver disease or cirrhosis, there were 121 deaths that were caused by constipation, which is typically not one of the serious or life threatening digestive disorders.


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Irritable bowel syndrome is understood as a multi-faceted disorder. In people with IBS, symptoms result from what appears to be a disturbance in the interaction between the gut or intestines, the brain, and the autonomic nervous system that alters regulation of bowel motility (motor function) or sensory function.

Most individuals are surprised to learn they are not alone with symptoms of IBS. In fact, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects approximately 10-20% of the general population. It is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists (doctors who specialize in medical treatment of disorders of the stomach and intestines) and one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.

One resource to look at would be 'friendly bacteria' as they play a vital role in our overall health. There are billions of bacteria residing in the gastro-intestinal tract. Some of them are 'friendly' bacteria while others are harmful with the potential to cause disease. Friendly bacteria fight against harmful micro-organisms by altering the acidity of the region they inhabit making it inhospitable for unfriendly bacteria. They produce specific antibiotic substances, and they deprive unfriendly bacteria of their nutrients. The overuse of antibiotics, antacids, or laxatives, can often disturb the bacterial microflora of the bowel. Probiotics is a term used to describe organisms that benefit life by inhabiting the intestinal tract. Acidophilus benefits the small intestine. Bifidus benefits the large intestine. They replenish the 'friendly bacteria', and are needed for digestion and for the manufacture of the B vitamins.

If you suffer alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea then seek a cure for the constipation first as the diarrhoea maybe a by product of constipation. The lining of a constipated bowel maybe contaminated with toxins such that the body uses watery stools to flush the toxins away.

If your bowel symptoms persist, you must see your medical doctor. Do not self diagnose as your pain may be a sign something more dangerous.

Diarrhoea may also occur when you are tense or scared. Ancient man was born with a flight or fight response. What this means is that when ancient man faced dangers that could kill him, the body produced adrenaline which either helped man run away or have the courage to face the danger. Humans today still have this defence response. These days it is stress, pace of life and the like that causes us to produce adrenaline rather than facing Woolly Mammoths. The effect of adrenaline on the body is to speed up bodily functions including the gut; remember exam time or your driving test? You may also notice that your breathing is quicker, that you can't relax as easily as you used to or that you're more rushed to fit everything in. If your bowel is reacting to stress then you need more than a change in diet. You would need to relax more. This could mean taking up yoga, meditation, hypnosis or a more physical activity such as running.

In 1990, 20% of the U.S. population suffered from acid reflux symptoms at least twice a week. Next to simple occasional heartburn, this may be the most common of all the digestive disorders. A recent study showed that 25% of all Americans suffer from heartburn at least once a month. In 2002, 710,000 people were hospitalized due to acid reflux and other related esophageal disorders. There are no figures available on the number of dollars that Americans spend per year treating the digestive system disorders acid reflux and heartburn. This is due largely to the fact that many people treat these digestive disorders with over the counter antacids or other non-prescription medications and some people do not seek treatment at all.

Some gastrointestinal diseases can be seen and diagnosed with the naked eye, such as ulcers of the stomach. Thus, ulcers can be seen at surgery, on x-rays, and at endoscopies. Other diseases cannot be seen with the naked eye but can be seen and diagnosed with the microscope. For example, celiac disease and collagenous colitis are diagnosed by microscopic examination of biopsies of the small bowel and colon, respectively. In contrast, gastrointestinal functional diseases cannot be seen with the naked eye or with the microscope. In some instances, the abnormal function can be demonstrated by tests, for example, gastric emptying studies or antro-duodenal motility studies. However, these tests often are complex, are not widely available, and do not reliably detect the functional abnormalities. Accordingly, by default, functional gastrointestinal diseases are those involving the abnormal function of gastrointestinal organs in which abnormalities cannot be seen in the organs with either the naked eye or the microscope.

Irritable bowl syndrome is painful, but not serious, and most people who have it can lead active, productive lives if they change their diets, get regular exercise, and replace needed nutrients. So rather than to suffer in silence, please know that you are not alone and do seek help from a health care provider if you cannot find comfort or have unanswered questions or concerns. Optimal health is attainable by making sure your body has the three basic biological requirements, enzymes, friendly bacteria, and minerals.

While the exact cause of IBS is unknown. In people with this problem the nerves lining the colon are thought to be more sensitive than normal to bowel contractions and the passage of gas and fluid, causing pain and cramping. The nerves that control the muscles in the gut may overreact to stimuli like gas or the passage of food following a meal. This may cause painful spasms and contractions that speed or slow the passage of stool through the colon, resulting in diarrhea or constipation. Together, these actions create a painful cycle. Symptoms are often numerous and vague. In some women, having a bowel movement will often relieve the pain.

IBS is best described as a functional disease. The concept of functional disease is particularly useful when discussing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The concept applies to the muscular organs of the gastrointestinal tract; the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, gallbladder, and colon. What is meant by the term, functional, is that both the muscles of the organs or the nerves that control the organs are not working normally, and, as a result, the organs do not function normally. The nerves that control the organs include not only the nerves that lie within the muscles of the organs but also the nerves of the spinal cord and brain.

Turning to medicines should be a last resort. Medicines have their place in the treatment of illnesses but an eastern philosophy is useful to adopt here which is cure the cause not the symptom. If you are suffering diarrhoea, then your body is telling you that it is using diarrhoea to heal itself. Taking medicines now, like Imodium, may block the healing process. In addition it is possible that by taking a drug that prevents diarrhoea you end up with constipation.

Figures are available for the number of prescriptions written for some of the digestive system disorders and diseases. 2.2 million Prescriptions were written for irritable bowel syndrome in 1985. And this is somewhat surprising, because currently the only prescription medication available for irritable bowel syndrome has only been proven effective for treating women. A million prescriptions were written in 1985 for constipation relief. Chronic constipation is sometimes a symptom of other digestive system disorders. For example, constipation or diarrhea may be present in irritable bowel syndrome.

What is IBS? It is known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and also has a variety of names such as: Mucus colitis, Nervous Colitis, Spastic colon, Nervous colon, Irritated colon, Unstable colon. It is actually one of the most common intestinal problems and often responsible for work absenteeism.

If your stool is frequent and loose then it might be an idea to take a break from food and just drink fluids [not tea or coffee] for a day. It is thought that over cooking white or brown rice until it is a pulp is also easy on the digestion. Rice is a very mild food on the bowel, which is why you will find that on any exclusion diet, rice is still allowed. Linseed is also useful in reducing diarrhoea as it acts as sponge by absorbing excess fluid in the bowel.

While IBS is a major functional disease, it is important to mention a second major functional disease referred to as dyspepsia, or functional dyspepsia. The symptoms of dyspepsia are thought to originate from the upper gastrointestinal tract; the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine. The symptoms include upper abdominal discomfort, bloating (the subjective sense of abdominal fullness without objective distension), or objective distension (swelling, or enlargement). The symptoms may or may not be related to meals. There may be nausea with or without vomiting and early satiety (a sense of fullness after eating only a small amount of food).

 
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The distinction between functional disease and non-functional disease may, in fact, be blurry. Thus, even functional diseases probably have associated biochemical or molecular abnormalities that ultimately will be able to be measured. For example, functional diseases of the stomach and intestines may be shown ultimately to be caused by reduced levels of normal chemicals within the gastrointestinal organs, the spinal cord, or the brain. Should a disease that is demonstrated to be due to a reduced chemical still be considered a functional disease? I think not. In this theoretical situation, we can't see the abnormality with the naked eye or the microscope, but we can measure it. If we can measure an associated or causative abnormality, the disease probably should no longer be considered functional.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common ailments of the bowel (intestines) and affects an estimated 15% of persons in the US. The term, irritable bowel, is not a particularly good one since it implies that the bowel is responding irritably to normal stimuli, and this may or may not be the case. The several names for IBS, including spastic colon, spastic colitis, and mucous colitis, attest to the difficulty of getting a descriptive handle on the ailment. Moreover, each of the other names is itself as problematic as the term IBS.

Over 1700 deaths were attributed to GERD, which is one of the digestive system disorders that can be effectively treated and controlled with medication, or herbal supplements, dietary and/or lifestyle changes. 825 deaths were due to ulcerative colitis and Chron's, which are digestive disorders called inflammatory bowel diseases and 22 were attributed to irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is another one of the digestive system disorders that can be treated and controlled by using dietary supplements and making dietary and lifestyle changes, including stress management.

Another important resource is blue-green algae which contains vitamin K, needed to build intestinal flora for proper digestion, and chlorophyll for healing and cleansing of the bloodstream. Freeze dried blue-green algae is enzymatically active to aid in digestion and assimilation of nutrients among a host of other benefits to our overall health.

Sometimes irritable bowel syndrome is referred to as spastic colon, mucous colitis, spastic colitis, nervous stomach, or irritable colon. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is generally classified as a "functional" disorder. A functional disorder refers to a disorder or disease where the primary abnormality is an altered physiological function (the way the body works), rather than an identifiable structural or biochemical cause. It characterizes a disorder that generally can not be diagnosed in a traditional way; that is, as an inflammatory, infectious, or structural abnormality that can be seen by commonly used examination, x-ray, or blood test.

If you believe that you suffer from one of the digestive system disorders or diseases, it is important to seek help. If you know that you suffer from one of the digestive disorders, it is important to get treatment. Most of the common digestive system disorders can be controlled and treated. If left untreated some of the fairly common digestive disorders can lead to more serious health problems. For more information about specific digestive system disorders and disease, visit www.digestive-disorders-guide.com.

Treatment options are available to manage IBS???whether symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe.

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The study of functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract often is categorized by the organ of involvement. Thus, there are functional disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, and gallbladder. The amount of research on functional disorders has been focused mostly on the esophagus and stomach (such as dyspepsia), perhaps because these organs are easiest to reach and study. Research into functional disorders affecting the small intestine and colon (for example, IBS) is more difficult to conduct and there is less agreement among the research studies. This probably is a reflection of the complexity of the activities of the small intestine and colon and the difficulty in studying these activities. Functional diseases of the gallbladder, like those of the small intestine and colon, also are more difficult to study.

Despite the shortcomings of the term, functional, the concept of a functional abnormality is useful for approaching many of the symptoms originating from the muscular organs of the gastrointestinal tract. This concept applies particularly to those symptoms for which there are no associated abnormalities that can be seen with the naked eye or the microscope.

One symptom of bowel dysfunction is diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is when food passes through and out of the bowel very quickly. When does diarrhoea occur? Diarrhoea is usually a reaction to food poisoning. You have eaten food which is full of bugs; the body's defence mechanism is engaged and the food is expelled from the body as fast as possible.

Sources: AWHONN (Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses), Cell Tech, Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

Occasionally, diseases that are thought to be functional are ultimately found to be associated with abnormalities that can be seen. Then, the disease moves out of the functional category. An example of this would be Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach. Many patients with mild upper intestinal symptoms who were thought to have abnormal function of the stomach or intestines have been found to have an infection of the stomach with Helicobacter pylori. This infection can be diagnosed by seeing the bacterium and the inflammation (gastritis) it causes under the microscope. When the patients are treated with antibiotics, the Helicobacter, gastritis, and symptoms disappear. Thus, recognition of Helicobacter pylori infection removed some patients' diseases from the functional category.

So how does one diagnose IBS? Unlike other medical conditions, there are no good screening tools or tests for IBS. Once diagnosed, there are several options for treatment. It's important to understand that there is no cure for irritable bowl syndrome. The goal of treatment is to lessen the symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, your health care provider may include one or a combination of different approaches. These may include diet therapy, especially if food triggers can be identified. Fiber supplements, drugs, psychological counseling, behavior therapy, and hypnosis may also be suggested. Some scientists believe a virus or bacterium may play a role as well as stress and diet.

Patsy Hamilton has more than twenty years experience as a healthcare professional and currently writes informational articles for the Digestive Disorders Guide. Read more at http://www.digestive-disorders-guide.com.

It is very important that pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome does not wake you up at night. If it does, contact your health care provider to rule out other more serious conditions. Also there is no association between IBS and weight loss and/or bleeding. If you have either of these symptoms, again, contact your health care provider immediately.

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by a group of symptoms in which abdominal pain or discomfort is associated with a change in bowel pattern, such as loose or more frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

Many women unfortunately deal with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome months before they seek help. Many are just too embarrassed to seek help. IBS is prevalent in the US and affects one in five adults, three times as many women as men. In a recently conducted poll, 58 percent of health care practitioners said IBS was easy to diagnose. Yet the 3,000 women sampled in the survey said it took more than three years and trips to three different doctors to finally get an IBS diagnosis.

Melinda Kempenich is the mother of three children and the wife of a state representative from the great State of North Dakota. You can find more informative articles and information on health at her website Health So Serene @www.healthsoserene.info If you would like to receive a free brochure on Enzymes, Probiotics, or Super Blue Green Algae, please visit her website or e-mail her at mybabies58623@yahoo.com, she'd love to hear from you. You may also send a written request to her at Melinda Kempenich, 9005 151st Ave SW, Bowman, ND 58623-8857

About the author:
Melinda Kempenich is the mother of three children and the wife
of a state representative from the great State of North Dakota.
Her goal is to help everyone find optimal health.


Nancy D. Pace

 
 
     
 
 





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