IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is not officially a disease but a disorder in which the colon overreacts to various stimuli. IBS may be chronic, and it impacts life and be painful. The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is currently not known. IBS is thought to be associated with a communication problem between the colon and the central nervous system. Deviations in the colon’s bacteria and metabolism products have also been observed in some people suffering from IBS.

Typical symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and changes in bowel movements. For some, constipation and diarrhoea alternate, while others mainly have one or the either. Abdominal pains may sometimes ease after defecating; on the other hand, it may feel like the bowels do not empty entirely. Symptoms and their intensity may vary from one day or week to another. Occasionally completely symptom-free periods can also occur.

A diagnosis is made based on symptomatology. IBS can be diagnosed if the patient has developed long-term abdominal pain, most commonly associated with changes in stool consistency and density, i.e., diarrhoea, constipation or both. The treatment of IBS focuses on the management and easement of symptoms. Monitoring personal lifestyle habits and aiming for balance are at the core of treatment. Stress may aggravate symptoms. Exercise promotes and eases bowel movements. It is essential to pay particular attention to food quality, quantity and meal rhythms. Healthy nutrition is the primary form of treatment. Sufficient fibre intake is particularly important regarding intestinal and overall body health. Drinking at least 1-1.5 litres of water every day would be good. It is worth focusing on eating calmly and chewing the food properly. The daily food intake is preferably split over 4-6 meals. You can also try eliminating, for example, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods and dairy products containing lactose from your daily diet.

The FODMAP diet, which aims to limit the intake of fermentable carbohydrates, is often used in treating IBS, but it must not be considered the main form of treatment. Starting a diet should be done with a legalised nutritionist so that the implementation is done correctly and provides the best possible benefit for the individual.