Irritable bowel syndrome is a fairly common disease of the gastrointestinal system. Many people have some degree of IBS, although only a small percentage will experience severe IBS symptoms and treatment.
Keep reading this article to learn more about the best treatment for IBS and whether this condition can be cured.
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that can affect the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and intestines. According to the Mayo Clinic, only a small percentage of people with IBS experience severe symptoms. Fortunately, IBS doesn’t lead to an increase in your risk of developing colorectal cancer in the future.
According to the NHS, IBS is usually a lifelong problem. And although there’s no cure for this disease, the best bowel syndrome treatment comes with diet and lifestyle changes. In some cases, patients will still need medications for IBS management.
What causes IBS?
The exact cause of IBS hasn’t been discovered yet. However, there are certain factors that seem to play a role in its development. Some of these factors can include:
- Intestinal muscle contractions: stronger or longer muscle contractions in your bowels can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
- Nervous system: problems with the nerves in your gastrointestinal system can lead to IBS symptoms, especially if the signals between your brain and digestive system are poorly coordinated, leading to pain, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Severe infection: IBS can be triggered by a severe bout of diarrhea that’s caused by a bacteria or virus.
- Early life stress: research has found that people who have been exposed to stress from an early age have a higher risk of developing IBS later on in life.
- Changes to your gut microbiota: there are beneficial bacteria, viruses, and fungi that typically live inside our gut. Changes to these microorganisms may play a role in IBS development.
Additionally, IBS symptoms can be triggered by:
- Food: many people experience worse symptoms after eating certain foods, including milk, wheat, citrus fruits, cabbage, beans, and carbonated drinks.
- Stress: high levels of stress can worsen your IBS symptoms, even if it’s not their primary cause.
How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?
There isn’t a specific therapy that works for everyone with IBS; however, most people with IBS can find a therapy that fits them. According to the Cleveland Clinic, many people find that dietary changes help with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
Some dietary changes that help to fix irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Eating more fiber in your diet in the form of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains
- Adding supplemental fiber in your diet
- Avoiding caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate, and sodas
- Lowering your cheese and dairy intake, since lactose intolerance is common in people with IBS
Additionally, some simple lifestyle changes can make a difference in how you treat IBS. These changes can be:
- Exercising regularly
- Stop smoking
- Trying relaxation techniques
- Recording the foods you eat so you can correlate food triggers and IBS flare ups
- Eating smaller meals, but more often
Can you cure irritable bowel syndrome?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for IBS at the moment. Treatment often relies on hit-or-miss strategies, which can create a frustrating process for the patient. But even if you can’t cure irritable bowel syndrome now, these strategies allow many patients to live fulfilled and happy lives once they get their disease under control.
Irritable bowel syndrome medicinal management can include:
- Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants if your IBS diagnosis has significantly affected your mental health, causing depression.
- Other medications can be used to control diarrhea, constipation, or pain.
- Probiotics could help restore your intestinal microbiota, which may ease your symptoms.
- If these therapies don’t work, your healthcare provider could refer you to mental health therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and biofeedback.
Irritable bowel syndrome - mayoclinic.org
What is IBS? - nhs.uk
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - my.clevelandclinic.org