Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Just the Facts

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder afflicting approximately 12% of adults in the United States. It is more commonly found in women than men: nearly twice as many women suffer from IBS as men.

There are many theories about the cause of IBS, but currently scientists seem to be honing in on two main culprits. The first is that IBS is caused by an imbalance in the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics and careful attention to healthy eating can help to reestablish an individual’s gut bacteria. The second suspected cause that experts have noted is anxiety and stress. Most people suffering from IBS find that their pain levels rise when their stress levels rise.

There is no test to verify the presence of IBS. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms. The main symptoms of IBS are:

  • Stomach pain, especially in the lower abdomen
  • Abdominal cramping and discomfort
  • Bloating, often severe
  • Alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression, which may occur as a result of the daily struggle to deal with the pain and discomfort of
  • “Brain fog,” which includes a lack of mental sharpness, difficulty concentrating, impaired judgment, confusion, and decreased memory function

In severe cases of IBS some of the following symptoms are present:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Severe and persistent pain

Individuals suffering from five or more symptoms mentioned above are likely to have IBS. Although the disorder has no cure, it is important to see a doctor in order to manage it, especially true if any of the severe symptoms are present.

Besides seeing a gastroenterologist in order to verify diagnosis and manage the pain and discomfort, it is advisable to avoid unhealthy foods. Generally speaking, a diet rich in vegetables will help balance a person’s microbiota. Adding fresh fish, an excellent source of healthy protein, to one’s diet can also be helpful. Finally, unsaturated fats, and in particular olive oil, can be beneficial for an individual’s general health, as well as for those suffering from IBS.

Tai chi, exercise, and meditation have been known to be helpful in handling stress. In more severe cases, counseling is advisable.

It is important to be proactive in managing the symptoms of IBS. Disciplined eating and stress management, along with whatever medications are suggested by your doctor, can help you improve your quality of life.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.

Part of our success is due to the care we take with our residents’ nutrition. Our world-class culinary team offers a tempting variety of meal selections that are produced under the supervision of a registered dietitian. The result: well-balanced, health-conscious meals that are sure to please even the most discerning palate. And, of course, special dietary needs are gladly accommodated.

Read our reviews on caring.com, wellness.com, and senioradvisor.com to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.

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