What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal disorder in the abdominal area which usually causes abdominal pain, wind, diarrhoea and constipation. There are 4 major types of IBS based on if diarrhea is frequent, constipation is frequent, both are frequent, or neither occurs frequently. Without doubt, IBS affects the quality of life and the productivity of school and work. It can also lead to anxiety, depression and chronic fatigue.

What are the causes of IBS

So far, the causes of IBS are still not determined, therefore, a diagnosis is usually made based on signs and symptoms. There are theories predicting that IBS are most likely caused by:

  • Genetic factors
  • Gut-brain axis problems
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Food sensitivity and allergies
  • Gut motility problems
  • Intestinal infection
  • Stress

How to manage IBS

There is no cure for IBS, however, there are treatments that can be easily applied in everyday life to improve IBS associated symptoms:

  • A low FODMAP diet

In short, FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates which include short chain oligo-saccharide polymers of fructose and galactooligosaccharides, lactose, fructose and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol. They are very poorly absorbed in the small intestine, and as a result, causing gut disorders. Studies have shown that a low FODMAP diet is beneficial for most people suffering from IBS

  • Fiber supplementation

Some research suggests that fiber supplementation such as psyllium or ispagula husk is effective in relieve the symptoms of IBS. However, this might only be beneficial in those who have constipation, for some, fiber supplementation might aggravate IBS symptoms

  • Medication

Diarrhoea medication, gut antispasmodic, laxative, nerve pain medication and antibiotics are quiet often prescribed to manage IBS symptoms

  • Self-care

Regular aerobic exercise can improve cardiovascular health and help relieve IBS symptoms. In the meantime, it is also beneficial to pursue enjoyable activities to reduce stress