IBS is a common and very frustrating disease which affects countless women. The average age of onset is between 20 and 29 and women are thought to be affected twice as often as men. The majority of people with IBS – about 95 per cent – will now seek medical help for their symptoms.
WHAT CAUSES IBS?
Having worked with lots of women with IBS, the three main causes in my experience are:Repressed emotions
Candida or parasites
YOUR INTEGRATED MEDICAL PRESCRIPTION:
First you need to establish what the underlying causes are, because this is key to a lasting resolution of the symptoms.
IBS is associated with a number of symptoms that vary both in their frequency and severity. The following criteria are used by most doctors to assess the possibility of IBS. If you have experienced abdominal discomfort or pain for at least 12 (not necessarily consecutive) weeks in the last year and if your discomfort or pain is accompanied by two or more of the following features, then you may have IBS.
- Your pain or discomfort is relieved after you have a bowel movement.
- When your pain or discomfort starts, you have a change in your usual number of bowel movements (either more or few).
- Abnormal bowel frequency (more than three per day or less than three per week).
- Abnormal stool passage, including straining, urgency or the feeling that you may not have completely emptied your rectum.
- Abnormal stool (lumpy/hard or loose/watery).
- Passage of mucous in the stool.
- Abdominal bloating, distension or swelling.
Consider the medical options
Because IBS is so readily treated using an integrated medical approach that deals with the underlying causes, I rarely recommend medication. However, there are circumstances when it has its uses.
- Your doctor may prescribe anti-spasmodic medication to help relax the walls of the bowel.
If you have diarrhoea your doctor will probably recommend loperamide, a drug which works by stopping your bowels going into spasm.
If you have constipation, your doctor will probably offer you a fibre-containing laxative such as ispaghula husk (brand names include Fybogel, Isogel and Ispagel). These help to reduce IBS symptoms in about two thirds of people who take them. They are useful in the short-term but in the long-term it is more important to get your fibre from a healthy diet.
If all of the above fail, you doctor might prescribe a tricyclic antidepressant medication such as amitriptyline, clomipramine, doxepin or trimipramine but I would steer well clear of antidepressants as you will not need them if you deal with the underlying causes of IBS.
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