When Should You See A Doctor For Ibs Pain
If you have persistent pain in the abdominal area, you should make an appointment with your doctor. While this may be an IBS symptom, your health care provider needs to rule out any other health concerns that could be causing your discomfort. You should also contact your doctor if your pain gets worse.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor right away:
Unexplained weight loss
Blood in your stool or bleeding from your rectum
Fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
While there is no cure for IBS, your health care professional may be able to suggest medications or lifestyle changes that can help ease your symptoms.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome
According to the Office of Womens Health, irritable bowel syndrome is a combination of symptoms that last for at least three months. Common symptoms of IBS include:
- Stomachaches or cramping
Other conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to have a medical evaluation to be sure none of these is present, says David D. Clarke, MD, professor of gastroenterology and president of the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association.
For example, your healthcare provider may want to rule out celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohns disease, lactose intolerance, or colon cancer. IBS is often a diagnosis by elimination, a process of making sure your symptoms arent caused by other look-alike diseases.
What’s Causing Your Ibs
While the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is unknown, studies have suggested that IBS might be related to a few specific changes in the body. Some symptoms may be caused by spasms, uncontrolled contractions in the muscles of the colon. The nerve endings in the intestines also may become unusually sensitive, magnifying pain. The reasons for these changes are not always known, but factors that have been linked with IBS include bacterial overgrowth, use of antibiotics, and stress, among others.
Psychological factors. The brain and gut are intimately connected. Your thoughts and emotions can trigger symptoms in the gut, and the health of your gut can shape your mental well-being. Stress can cause more contractions in the intestines and increase sensitivity. It’s not clear whether stress or other psychological factors may be a cause of IBS or vice versa. However, we do know that people with IBS often have higher levels of stress and anxiety and that this distress also can make IBS symptoms worse. A 2017 study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that people with IBS have higher levels of depression and anxiety compared with those who don’t have the disorder. IBS also is more common among people who experienced psychological trauma as children.
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When Should I Speak To A Doctor About Stress And Ibs Symptoms
If you have IBS symptoms and theyre interfering with your daily life, you should see a doctor, says Dr Saloojee.
They will take a history of your symptoms and examine you, and they may arrange some blood tests or a stool test. There isnt a specific test to diagnose IBS, but these investigations can rule out other bowel problems like inflammatory bowel disease, bowel infections, coeliac disease and bowel cancer.
There are some symptoms you should never ignore:
- Unintentional weight loss
It Affects Your Work Life
Dealing with an unpredictable digestive system can significantly impact on a person’s career choice. For some, this means not going into the desired career due to the inability to sit through school to get a degree. For others, it means not being able to do work that you love because you need to be near a bathroom or need to have the flexibility to take time off due to severe symptoms. Many people who have IBS avoid jobs that involve travel because the demands of such are too hard on the body. This may mean that IBS can have a very significant negative impact on a person’s finances.
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Does Exercise Help With Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Working out might be the last thing you want to do as an IBS patient, but science shows this can actually be beneficial. A group of patients were asked to do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week.
After three months, the active group reported better results than the inactive group. Symptoms worsened in 23% of cases in the inactive group, while only 8% of individuals felt worse after 3 months of exercise .
Exercise is also a good way to reduce stress. To maximize your workout sessions, we recommend doing the following:
- Dont eat fatty foods before exercising
- Try to schedule your exercises closer to when your intestines are most quiet
- Dont drink caffeinated drinks such as coffee and energy drinks before working out
- If you have hyperactive bowels, eat first thing in the morning
- Drink lots of water before working out
How Does Ibs Affect People At Work
Balancing work with irritable bowel syndrome can pose great challenges, particularly as IBS is often linked to anxiety and stress. IBS symptoms can take a real toll on a person’s physical and mental well-being, especially when they might require accommodations but feel too embarrassed to confide in colleagues or employers who don’t understand.
Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
12-Oct-21·8 mins read
The debilitating effects of IBS frequently cause those struggling to take days off, arrive to work late or finish early.
In some cases, if IBS limits someone’s ability to complete their daily activities, they can be classed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010.
While employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their employees at work, these alterations aren’t always enough for people with IBS. Even if changes are made, severe symptoms of IBS can still be difficult to manage when someone feels humiliated by needing to use the toilet or their stress levels are high.
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Your Healthcare Provider Doesn’t Know What To Do With You
Most healthcare providers go into the medical field because they want to help people to get better. IBS presents a challenge to even the most well-meaning of healthcare providers because effective treatment options for IBS are so limited. Healthcare provider can provide reassurance that a more serious disorder has not been missed, perhaps prescribe an antispasmodic or other form of IBS medication, but are not, as of yet, able to offer a firm plan for a cure. This limitation can be so disheartening to a person who is feeling so ill and who looks to their healthcare providers for answers, yet comes away without any solid sense of relief.
What Causes Ibs And Who Is Likely To Have It
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but possible causes include over-sensitive nerves in the gut or immune system, food passing through the gut too quickly or too slowly, stress, or a family history of IBS, explains Dr Saloojee.
Post-infectious IBS is caused by a previous bacterial infection in the gut, which can then lead to the syndrome.
Youre more likely to have IBS if:
- Youre under 50 years of age
- Youre female
- You have a family history of IBS
- You have a history of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems
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If You Have Benefits Use Them
Take the time to learn your benefits package and find out what resources you have available to you. For example, many company packages offer money towards things like massages or therapy. Speaking to a therapist can be especially useful. Things like cognitive behavioural therapy can teach you ways to consciously manage your stress and fend off anxiety proactively.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms & Treatment Options
Irritable bowel syndrome is not often thought of as a stress-related disorder, but as it turns out, the brain can play a significant role in the health of our gut and digestive systems. And this is a two-way street, as the health of our gut can dramatically affect normal brain functioning, altering our emotions, mood, and even sleeping patterns.
This is why common treatments for IBS usually encompass several types of treatment protocols, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, diet changes, and even anti-anxiety medication, as theres no magic bullet that can cure IBS and its symptoms in one fell swoop.
In this article, we will discuss what Irritable Bowel Syndrome is, what causes it, and what treatment protocols are available, including the Drake Institutes non-drug treatment options, which are effective at helping reduce IBS, as well as other stress-related disorders like general anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
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Lifestyle Factors For Stress Management
On a day-to-day basis, positive lifestyle adjustments can also reduce chronic stress. This may in turn benefit symptoms of IBS. Important lifestyle factors to consider include:
ExerciseExercise releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins, the bodyâs ânatural painkillersâ that reduce stress and improve sleep. Even ten minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
âMeditationMeditation has a range of benefits to mind and body, including stress relief. An 8-week program improved overall psychological wellbeing and perceived control over life. Meditation can be easy to learn and even 5 minutes of practice can help reduce stress.
âMaintaining a healthy diet âEating whole foods and five serves of vegetables can boost mood and reduce stress. Foods high in fibre, such as wholegrain breads and cereals may lower stress, and citrus fruits and other vitamin C-containing foods reduce anxiety.
Maintaining a sense of humourâWhile this may feel challenging in times of pain and stress, laughter releases endorphins and other healthy hormones and distracts people from anger, stress and other negative emotions.
Building supportive relationships âA social support network helps to improve self-esteem and autonomy, reducing stress levels. Feeling supported helps to avoid loneliness, which is associated with depression and anxiety.
How Can I Manage Stress To Prevent Another Ibs Flare
Dr Saloojee recommends identifying the key stressors in your life. It may be helpful to keep a diary of your gut symptoms every day and see if theres a connection between how youre feeling mentally and a flare-up of IBS symptoms, she says.
Once youve identified your triggers, you can take steps towards trying to eliminate or manage them. Because of the link between the brain and gut, this may lead to an improvement in IBS symptoms or fewer flare-ups.
Dr Saloojees tips for reducing symptoms are:
- Try stress-reducing activities, like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and regular exercise
- Practise good sleep hygiene by going to bed at a regular time, reducing screen time before bed and keeping your room dark
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
- Cut down on caffeine, which stimulates the gut
- Eat smaller meals
- Avoid fried or fatty foods
- Avoid foods that are known triggers for you this might include dairy, beans, lentils, cabbage, broccoli or other gas-producing foods
- Try probiotics , which may relieve gas and bloating
- Try increasing fibre in your diet
- Join an IBS support group
- Take symptom-relieving medication if you need it
- Talk to a GP for further support
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The Ibs And Anxiety Connection
People with anxiety often worry a lot more than the average person about health, money and everyday issues or situations. When a person is feeling anxious, physical symptoms often occur too such as muscle tightness, upset stomach, insomnia, and irritability, similar to the symptoms of IBS.
High levels of stress, caused by anxiety or other external factors, are known IBS symptom triggers. Many people with IBS report experiencing more frequent symptoms or worsening symptoms during stressful or anxiety-ridden periods. So stress and anxiety aggravate IBS however, does it cause the condition?
Is Ibs A Lifelong Condition And Can It Be Managed
Michelle developed IBS in 2002 after the birth of her first child, following the pressures of being a new mum, working full-time and managing the stresses of everyday life.
Now 45, she still finds IBS restricts everyday life, but she has learnt to manage it. These methods include adapting her diet and finding medication that works for her, after trying several kinds of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication. She takes maximum doses of medication on days when she has plans or needs to go out. However, this has a knock-on effect as it can cause constipation.
There is no single cure for IBS. Dr Behnam says it can be a lifelong condition. However, in most people IBS improves in later life and symptoms can often be managed by making adjustments so a person’s lifestyle is less stressful.
She says that stress reduction, along with a healthy diet and adequate sleep are the three main factors in the management of IBS.
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Treatment For Ibs And Anxiety
Both anxiety disorder and IBS are treatable conditions despite there being no cure. IBS has been effectively treated with several therapies including hypnotherapy, CBT, mindfulness-based treatment, anti-depressants and elimination diets such as low FODMAP.
Anxiety disorder is most often treated using psychological therapies such as CBT, hypnotherapy and coping strategies, or anti-depressant medication. Therapies targeting the nervous system, such as hypnotherapy, CBT and anti-depressants may treat symptoms of both IBS and anxiety.
Below is a list of treatments that may be beneficial in both IBS and anxiety disorder.
Psychological Stress And Stress
Stress as a specific medical term was first defined by the endocrinologist Hans Selye in 1936 as the physiological adaptive responses to perceived or real threats to an organism. An acute stressor can evoke a fight or flight response that prepares to defend the stability of the internal environment in order to ensure the survival of the organism. When the stress passes, a negative feedback is triggered to terminate the stress response and bring the body back to a state of homeostasis or eustasis. However, if the stressor becomes chronic and/or exceeds the organisms ability to maintain the stress response, it becomes harmful because basal homeostasis cannot be reached. For most humans in modern societies, psychological stress is more frequent than physical stress and it may be induced by various social and emotional triggers, some of which can be unique for an individual.
Stress stimulates the HPA axis and then triggers the release of CRF, ACTH, and cortisol, which directly or indirectly affect gut function, influences the composition and the growth of microbiota, and also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Stress alters the quantity of mast cells, EC cells, lymphocytes as well as their produced neurotransmitters, which are all involved in mucosal immune activation and further interact with gut microbiota and gut function. Stress-related changes in gut microbiota help maintain contact between the brain and gut.
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How Do Stress And Anxiety Affect Ibs
If youve recently been diagnosed with IBS or have long been affected by the condition, then youll have been told that lifestyle choices play a big part in it. IBS can impact people differently and someone going through a particularly bad flare-up may be triggered by the smallest of things. Having said that, stress and feeling anxious can have a massive effect on your IBS.
Currently, there is no known specific cause for IBS but research into the link between the brain and the gut is strong. Experts suggest that people suffering from IBS have higher sensitivities to stress and certain foods. Its suggested that those with IBS can frequently suffer from anxiety and depression which in turn worsens the symptoms. The colon is a part of the body that is controlled by the nervous system which is what responds to stress.
Having IBS can cause imbalances between the brain and gut according to an article published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. With stress and anxiety sometimes triggering overactivity in your gut, resulting in diarrhea and stomach cramps. Whereas in others, the brain is underactive meaning the gut slows down causing constipation and discomfort.
Trigger #: Eating The Wrong Foods
The most common trigger is just eating, Dr. Perino explained. Now, food is obviously unavoidable. We all have to eat eventually. But which specific foods should you avoid outright? FODMAP foods are a possible culprit for people with IBS. These are short-chain carbohydrates that arent easily absorbed and digested, which cause gas, bloating and general pain. Some examples:
- Sugary foods: dried fruit, apples, mangoes, watermelon and high-fructose corn syrup
- Foods with polyols: apples, apricots, avocados, cherries, nectarines, peaches and cauliflower
- Foods with lactose: milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurts
- Foods with oligosaccharides: vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, broccoli and onions, and legumes including chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans
- Sweeteners with polyols: isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol, which are sometimes in gum and certain medications.
Itll probably take time to learn which foods make your IBS worse. Consider consulting with your doctor and a dietitian, who can help you eliminate and track these FODMAP elements one at a time. And through it all, be patient with yourself.
Lots of patients have foods they blame, but its highly variable, Dr. Perino added. A food can be a trigger to one person but have little effect on the next. Tracking your own results is among the most important things you can do.
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How Does Stress Contribute To Ibs
Stress causes many changes in the body, to hormones, nerves, and levels of bacteria in the gut. These changes may lead to IBS and include:
- Pain perception: Stress causes higher sensitivity to pain in the colon and rectum, in response to stretching. This leads to abdominal pain in IBS.
- Brain activation: Brain areas associated with attention are changed in stress, leading to a greater conscious focus on sensations in the body, and more pain.
- Gut bacteria: Levels change in response to chronic stress, potentially causing IBS as gut bacteria interact with the nervous system and immune system.
- Immune system: Becomes activated. Although this may seem like a good thing, it has adverse effects as is the case in an allergic reaction. In particular, the activation of âsilentâ pain receptor cells increases sensitivity to pain in IBS.
- Hormonal changes: Include the release of a corticotropin-releasing factor . This leads to changes in gut bacteria, and the immune system â both of which contribute to IBS.