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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS? What Causes it? How to treat it?

It is by some sources the most common intestinal complaint for which people are referred to a gastroenterologist.irritable bowel syndrome

It is characterized by abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. Some people describe a full sensation even without eating too much. One of the main hallmark symptoms we see in our office are switching between constipation and diarrhea. The symptoms usually occur after meals, come and go and are temporarily reduced or relieved after a bowel movement. People with diarrhea will have frequent, loose, watery stools. They will often have an urgent need to have a bowel movement, which is difficult to control. Those with constipation will have difficulty passing stool, as well as less frequent bowel movements. They will often need to strain and will feel cramping with a bowel movement. Often, they do not eliminate any stool, or only a small amount.  Most people are diagnosed simply by their symptoms. Occasionally a doctor will run a few tests if there are other complicating factors to rule out things like Chron’s disease.

What causes it? UNKNOWN. Has been seen after an intestinal infection of some type, stress and appears to be more common in women. Something not seen in a lot of literature that we have seen a high correlation with in our office is women who are hypothyroid or pre-hypothyroid, meaning it appears to occur prior to a full blow case of hypothyroidism. There are associations with, as most things now: diet, alcohol, caffeine etc.

What to do about it? Medical approach is to simple attempt to relieve the symptoms and tell you that this may be a life long problem for you.

Current medications include:

  • Anticholinergic medications (dicyclomine, propantheline, belladonna, and hyoscyamine) taken about a half-hour before eating to control colon muscle spasms
  • Loperamide to treat diarrhea
  • Low doses of tricyclic antidepressants to help relieve intestinal pain
  • Lubiprostone for constipation symptoms
  • Medications that relax muscles in the intestines

According to Public Med Health, you can look the above up and ALL of them have side effects some worse then the problem itself. Which also seems to be a common theme among many of the medications for conditions like these.

What we have found in our office is if you help the person’s thyroid many of there IBS symptoms go away. My sister had IBS for 10 years once we helped her thyroid with natural supplements and a few diet changes of foods that she was sensitive to her symptoms where GONE. A natural product we use in office called Iodomere from Standard Process has really helped.