ibs a symptom of the menopause - Irritable bowel syndrome
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Irritable bowel syndrome

If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you will know how difficult it is to treat. Doctors can be dismissive of IBS symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation and bloating, and when treatment is offered it may only help for a short while before the distressing symptoms return.


Following on from your story of your symptoms, the doctor may physically examine you. This may be an examination of the stomach area where the doctor will push along the large intestinal wall, to understand how tender the region is. Your doctor may also take your blood pressure or measure your heart rate.


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 Looking at your diet Laura describes how a close examination of her diet helped her IBS: 'I was placed on every kind of medication, and sometimes they worked in the short term, sometimes they didn't work at all. The doctor finally suggested trying to alter my diet in cycles, and we discovered that eating meat was my problem. I became a vegetarian and no longer have constant problems. Sometimes I even go years without any pain at all. It's worth all the effort you put into it when you finally feel better.'

All the self-help tips in this article have come from IBS sufferers who have found a way to control their irritable bowels. Before trying any form of self-help, please make sure that you have your doctor's approval, and do check that anything you try will not interfere with any medication you are taking.

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.

A final word Lastly, please do make sure that you have been officially diagnosed with IBS and had your symptoms fully investigated before trying any self-help methods. As Joe found out, bowel symptoms can be due something other than IBS: 'I was diagnosed with IBS, but I went to get a second opinion. They did an ultrasound followed by a barium follow-through which showed major inflammation and blockage of my small intestine. The final diagnosis is Crohn's disease. It's a pity they didn't catch it before I was seriously ill, instead of fobbing me off with excuses of 'It's IBS, there's no cure so live with it!''

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.

The following is a list of symptoms that do not indicate IBS: 1). blood on the stool, 2). jet black stool that looks like tar, 3). vomiting or vomiting blood,

Flaxseed Watching your diet is sometimes not enough to completely control the symptoms, and natural or herbal supplements can help, as Marion discovered: 'After about six months of a horrendously restrictive diet (ultra low-fat vegan with no raw veggies or fruit except banana) and a lot of Metamucil, I managed to get it sort of under control. But if I deviated from the diet, the chronic diarrhea would come back. Someone I met told me that she had helped her IBS by taking a tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed with a glass of water or juice every morning. I thought it was another crackpot cure, but eventually I decided to try it. She had told me that pre-ground flaxseed didn't work because flax seed starts to oxidize as soon as you grind it and that whole flax seeds are no good either, because they cannot be digested properly. After years of IBS, in about two weeks it just went away. I cannot believe that I now have perfectly normal, regular bowel movements.'

Your doctor may request that you take a Barium Meal which is swallowed or a Barium Enema which is taken via the rectum. Barium is a radioactive substance that shows up under X-rays.

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.

Your doctor may refer you to a Gastroenterologist for a rectal examination. This is where the Gastroenterologist inserts a flexible tube with a light inside it into your rectum. The allows the Gastroenterologist to see the lining of the bowel. The Gastroenterologist may examine part of the colon or the entire length [about 4 feet]. In addition the Gastroenterologist may take a sample of the bowel wall called a biopsy to make sure that the bowel is truly normal. This is one way for example to test for gluten intolerance.

Stress and IBS Daniel believes that his symptoms are related to his emotions and stress: 'I thought that when I was stuck on the toilet, experiencing the most severe cramps, thinking I was about to pass out from the pain, feeling like I was about to throw up, I was the only one. I'm still trying to work it out but I believe it has a lot to do with my psychological state. I say this because although I don't get too stressed out at any one moment, I do have general worries about money and life. I tend to find when I'm not worrying about these things I don't get the pain as much, if at all. It's easier said than done of course, I can't just stop worrying about money or my future, but being aware of these things seems to help - being optimistic and knowing that everything is only temporary. I have been taking Colpermin (peppermint capsules) as a preventative which often helps and for a while I took painkillers which I think helped.'

Kim, who also suffers from bad diarrhea, says: 'I tried taking digestive enzymes with acidophilus and found significant relief within three days. I am not afraid to eat now, but find that I still cannot eat very much refined sugar or high fibre vegetables. I have also added a cup or two per day of peppermint and chamomile tea. When I do have an episode it occurs late in the day and by the next morning I am feeling back to normal.'

4). loss of weight when you are not trying to lose weight. If you have any of these symptoms then you need to see your medical doctor even if you have IBS.

If you can, before you go to see your medical doctor, write out your questions beforehand, so that you have a better chance of leaving the doctor with your questions and concerns answered.

If you suffer from constipation rather than diarrhea, you could try magnesium supplements instead, as these can have a slight laxative effect. Digestive enzymes and probiotics

All in all it can take a while [months] to run through all the medical tests to confirm that there is nothing wrong with your bowel. Whatever you can do speed up this process should be suggested to the medical profession, for example if you can go private.

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.

Mina also found that dietary change helped control her symptoms, alongside traditional medication: 'I've made a number of changes to my diet. I've eliminated milk and mostly any dairy, fried foods, sugar for the most part, pop, alcohol, potato chips, spicy food, rice, pasta and bread. Most recently I'm eliminating flour. But my best friend for the last couple of years has been Imodium Quick Dissolve tablets. I don't ever leave home without them. I just have to make sure I don't overdo it. If I ever become immune to the wonder drug I am gonna be a real mess!'

Calcium tablets Linda, who suffers from severe diarrhea, says: 'What has helped me for more than two years is calcium carbonate, an over-the-counter supplement. I take three tablets a day, one at each meal. The most success has come from using any formula of calcium supplement that is like Caltrate 600 Plus with vitamin D and minerals. The only side effect is at the beginning of taking the calcium you may have some gas or indigestion, but this usually goes away after taking a regular dose for a few days.'

Fiber, water and yoga Pam, who struggles with constipation, has developed a combination of things which work for her: 'I drink Metamucil (psyllium fibre) every day and try to relax, pray or meditate, even do a little yoga. The more I make myself relax and take time to de-stress the better I can manage my problem. I know time for yourself is very hard to come by sometimes but I have to if I'm going to manage this. I try to drink at least three bottles of water a day. This is also hard sometimes but I have to take care of me the best I can. I also take a mild anti-depressant. This has helped a bunch in my stress department and in turn has helped my IBS.'

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastro-intestinal (GI) condition with no known cause or cure. It causes the GI tract to move too quickly (hypermotility) or too slowly (hypomotility) and the resulting symptoms include any one or a combination of the following: diarrhea, constipation, cramping, gas, pain or bloating. Symptoms usually run in cycles lasting for days, months or years. IBS can be disabling making sufferers feel like prisoners in their own home. IBS affects 35 million Americans, 4 of 5 are women, and it is more prevalent than asthma, diabetes, acid reflux and depression combined. There are likely millions who never pursue treatment due to embarrassment. 10% of all primary care physician visits are IBS related. It is the 2nd leading cause for employee absenteeism and costs the US 8 billion dollars/year. Diagnosing IBS is a process of exclusion which means a physician needs to rule out conditions such as lactose intolerance, Chron's disease, bacterial infections, parasites, dumping syndrome, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac and gallbladder disease before a diagnosis of IBS can be determined. The onset of symptoms ranges between the ages of 20-29 in adults and 9-11 in children. Onset of symptoms can sometimes be traced back to a traumatic event, illness, injury or accident. Some clients just begin having symptoms early in life for no apparent reason at all. IBS is also known to be familial. Many IBS sufferers go through life with no idea of what normal gastro-intestinal function is like. IBS symptoms can be aggravated by stress, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, foods high in animal or vegetable fat, beverages containing dyes, artificial sweeteners, food or medication sensitivities or hormone fluctuation but none are the cause. Some research indicates that IBS sufferers may have an abundance of specialized cells in the intestinal tract making them more reactive and sensitive. Irregular GI motility is responsible for the discomfort and inconsistent bowel movements. If the GI tract moves too quickly the body doesn't get enough time to absorb what it needs resulting in diarrhea. If it moves too slowly the body absorbs too much resulting in constipation. This erratic pattern can dramatically affects how nutrients are absorbed and how effective the colon absorbs waste out of the blood stream. (1) Traditional medical intervention includes high fiber diets, antispasmodics to relieve cramping and spasms; antidepressants to relieve the emotional burden and antidiarrhea medication. Research indicates that this approach offers symptom relief to only 25%. Because IBS is not life threatening, is not a precursor to acute illness and is undetectable with diagnostic equipment, sufferers are usually told they have to live with it. Hypnosis is the process of accessing subconscious thought which is the control center. The reason hypnosis is so effective for weight loss and smoking cessation is because the subconscious is where all of our habits, patterns, values and beliefs reside. Clients can be empowered to reframe their view of nutrition, exercise and to release unhealthy patterns in favor more positive ones. The subconscious mind also regulates our body's inner network of complicated mechanisms. It regulates our heart and respiratory rate, co-ordinates every step we take and controls the thousands of metabolic functions everyday of our lives. With unique access to this immensely powerful place hypnosis can positively redirect specific areas of GI function. Hypnosis as a treatment for IBS has been researched for 20 years and although it does not offer a cure it stands alone as the most significant long term symptom relief solution. The success rate of hypnosis relieving IBS symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation is consistently high ranging from 70-95%. Symptom relief usually lasts at least two years. Clients who do not respond as well to hypnosis treatment for IBS relief are those over 50 years of age, who are less open to process of hypnosis, those with psychiatric disorders, and one study indicates males with diarrhea as their major symptom. (2) For decades hypnosis has been one of the most misunderstood and overlooked holistic sciences but that is changing quickly. The best way to gain acceptance by the mainstream medical community is with the empirical evidence from scientific research. For 20 years researchers like Olafur S. Palsson, Peter Whorwell, William Gonsalkorale and L.A. Houghton have been studying the benefits of hypnosis for symptoms of IBS. The following are brief descriptions of some of their findings. One study compared 25 severe IBS clients treated with hypnosis to 25 patients with similar symptom severity treated with other methods. The hypnosis group showed that in addition to significant IBS symptom improvement they had fewer MD visits, lost less work time and rated an improved quality of life. Hypnosis clients unable to work before treatment went back to work afterwards. The study shows the economic benefits and improved health-related quality of life. (3) Another study which is the largest to date followed 250 IBS clients who were treated with 12 hypnosis sessions over a 3-month period and they also listened to recorded sessions at home. The conclusions showed dramatic improvement in all IBS symptoms. The average reduction in symptoms was more than 50% as well as increased quality of life and relief from anxiety and depression. (4) Lastly, the longest study to date treated and followed 204 IBS clients for up to 6 years. 71% showed immediate improvement, and 81% of this group was still improved years later. Quality of life scores were also still significantly improved at follow-up. Patients had less MD visits and required less medication long-term after hypnotherapy. Results indicate that most hypnosis clients benefit for at least five years. (5) (1) Melissa J. Roth C.Ht., Ph.D.; Hypnosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (2) Olafur S. Palsson, Psy.D. Hypnosis Treatment of IBS, Participate, fall 2002 (3) Houghton LA; Heyman DJ; Whorwell PJ.Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 1996 Feb. (4) Gonsalkorale WM, Houghton LA, Whorwell PJ. Am J Gastroenterol 2002 (5) Gonsalkorale WM, Miller V, Afzal A, Whorwell PJ. Gut. 2003 Nov.

 
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IBS treatment


About the author:
Paul Gustafson RN, BSN, CH runs HealthyHypnosis.com of
Burlington, Massachusetts. His 11 years of acute cardiac and
hospice experience offer a solid foundation supporting his
clinical approach to hypnotherapy. Visit HealthyHypnosis.com or
call toll free at 888-290-3972.





About the author:
Sophie Lee has had IBS for 14 years. She runs the IBS Tales
website at http://www.ibstales.com where you can read hundreds
of stories and tips from IBS sufferers.

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.

Sufferers often find that they have to deal with the symptoms themselves, through self-help methods and supplements, rather than by using conventional medicines. However, this does not mean that there is no hope of improvement. By sharing their experiences, sufferers can learn a lot about what really helps to ease IBS.

The doctor may also ask for blood tests to be taken. This could be to check for parasites, for example, Giardia. The purpose of these tests is reassurance and confirmation that nothing is wrong with the structure of the bowel. You are unlikely to get a tumour or cancer from IBS. IBS is an indication that the bowel is going into spasm. These days your medical doctor should be understanding and compassionate of your symptoms. I would hope that now the medical profession has moved on and agrees that IBS is a bona fide illness and is not just in our heads. I was lucky in that my medical doctor used to be a sufferer of IBS. I would research information and then go to him with what I'd found and we would both agree on the next course of action. I hope that you are fortunate enough to also have such an understanding medical doctor.

The diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome [IBS] is made by your medical doctor mainly on the basis of what symptoms you are experiencing. Typical symptoms are bloating, abdominal pain/cramps, constipation and diarrhoea. Typical causes are a bad diet, food poisoning, a prolonged course of antibiotics or an operation around the pelvic area.

Soluble versus insoluble fiber Some nutritionists believe that IBS sufferers' intestines react differently to soluble and insoluble fiber, and this has been Stu's experience: 'After trying all kinds of drugs and healthy eating, my pains were still there. I found by accident that it wasn't so much what I ate but whether I ate it on a full stomach or not. My failsafe is pasta on an empty stomach, I get no reaction - it is soluble fibre that settles the colon apparently. I quickly searched on the internet for recipes high in soluble fibre and I have improved. Most significantly though I am on no medication and this puts me in control of the IBS, not the other way around. I think this is important as stress certainly can trigger the symptoms off. I don't avoid insoluble fibre as it is essential for the body, but I recommend that you eat it on a full stomach.'

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.


Nancy D. Pace

 
 
     
 
 





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