Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Causes And Triggers
Few years back when we moved to Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, I and my husband both faced a very strange problem with our digestive system. Both of us were suffering with a condition that the doctor’s called IBS. Now what the hell was that we thought, so were told by the experts that IBS means Irritable bowel syndrome. It meant a condition with troubled gut symptoms including abdominal pain, intestinal gas/wind, bloating, and changed bowel habit (ranging from diarrhea to constipation).
Those were really tough times with various family troubles. I had to do a lot of travelling during weekends as my father was dying of cancer and the pressures of a working mom of two teenagers. Addition to that in came this tummy trouble which later I realised was due to the direct link to psychological factors.
What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is still not very clear yet most experts agree it is related to an increased sensitivity of the entire gut. this sensitivity might be caused by various things like:
Shift in body’s ability to move food through digestive system
Food moves through your digestive system by squeezing and relaxing of the muscles of the intestines in a rhythmic way but in IBS this process is altered. As a result food moves through the digestive system either too quickly or too slowly, causing discomfort in the abdomen. If food moves too quickly, you have diarrhoea because digestive system does not have enough time to absorb water from the food. On the contrary if food moves through digestive system too slowly, it causes constipation because too much water is absorbed, making your stools hard and difficult to pass. In people suffering from IBS food does not pass through the digestive system properly because the signals that travel back and forth from the brain to the gut, controlling the nerves, are disrupted in some way.
Sensitivity to pain from gut
Many sensations in the body come from your digestive system. For example, nerves in digestive system relay signals to the brain to let it know if hungry or full, or if there is a need to go to the toilet. Experts think that people with IBS are oversensitive to the digestive nerve signals. This means mild indigestion that is barely noticeable in most people becomes distressing abdominal pain in those with IBS.
An increase in levels of a chemical called 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), which can occur after eating certain foods or during times of stress, is also thought to affect the normal functioning of the gut. Intense emotional states such as stress and anxiety can trigger chemical changes that interfere with the normal workings of the digestive system. This happens not only in people with IBS but many people who have never had IBS before can have a sudden change in bowel habits when faced with a stressful situation. Not only that it has been discovered that many people suffering from IBS have experienced some traumatic event such as abuse, neglect, a serious childhood illness or bereavement during their childhood.
What triggers IBS?
If you have symptoms of IBS then you need to be careful about these triggers:
- fizzy drinks
- drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee or cola
- processed snacks, such as crisps and biscuits
- fatty and fried food
How to avoid IBS?
Keep a food diary to identify possible triggers in your diet.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of larger meals. Too full a tummy can create problems at odd places and time. I remember during my trip to Vaishno Mata temple half of the time while climbing up the hill I was most of the time looking for toilets around. I laugh now as I no more suffer from IBS (How I got cured, that will be in the next post) but at that time it was really terrible.
Follow FODMAP Diet
FODMAP is a way of eating which helps in controlling IBS symptoms. My next post is about FODMAP Diet. Stay connected.
Hope this post would help you to handle IBS better !
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