(NaturalNews) Irritable bowel syndrome affects thousands of people, who sometimes think they have stomach problems. It is often the result of stress; an ache in the lower abdomen may begin in the morning and worsen during the day, leaving the person feeling like her insides are being twisted. Irritable bowel syndrome is often difficult to diagnose and treat. Symptoms include bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea and sometimes the pain can be debilitating. The condition is becoming more common as lifestyles are becoming more pressurized and stressful. Slowing down, dealing with stress and finding out about food sensitivities are some of the ways of dealing with IBS.
Stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS seems to affect more women than men and begins before age 35 in 50% of cases. It may follow a bout of bacterial gastrointestinal infection. Sometimes, a sufferer may be unable to digest gluten which can lead to symptoms that are similar to IBS. Other causes can include overeating, eating too quickly, too much fat in the diet, artificial sweeteners, antidepressant medication and certain antibiotics that alter the balance of bacteria in the intestines.
Watch out for the following symptoms that may indicate IBS:
- abdominal pain or discomfort for at least 12 weeks out of a year (not necessarily running consecutively) - pain that is relieved by having a bowel movement - irregular bowel movements - constipation - mucous in the stool - bloating - changes in the appearance of bowel movements.
Suggestions for Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- By process of elimination, try to discover food sensitivities and stay away from these foods. - Increase water intake, and make sure water is clean and pure. - Gradually increase intake of foods rich in fiber such as wholegrain health bread, brown rice, oats and bran rich cereals. - Raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of fiber. - Some IBS sufferers find that steaming or cooking vegetables makes them softer and easier to digest. - Stay away from carbonated drinks and fatty foods and limit dairy products.
Try gentle, stress-relieving exercises such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, swimming or walking. Stress and mind-body treatment options have proven successful in treating IBS. Consider going for a therapeutic massage or reflexology treatment to unwind and de-stress. Take the time to sit down and enjoy meals quietly; wolfing down food while on the go will not help an individual with IBS.
A course of pro-biotics may help to restore overall intestinal health, reduce bloating and normalize bowel movements. Probiotic supplements come in powders, liquids or capsules. Natural, unsweetened yogurt, kefir, miso or kombucha also contain helpful pro-biotics. If constipation is a problem, a fiber supplement may help.
Fleur Hupston is a professional freelance writer. She is passionate about natural, healthy living and is currently studying to be a naturopath. She divides her time between writing for Natural News and various other sites, home schooling her children and studying part time.