The Toll of IBS: Emotional, Physical, and Mental

The Toll of IBS: Emotional, Physical, and Mental

IBS is becoming a more and more common diagnosis. IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and it affects about 10 to 15 percent of the population in the United States. It is more common in women than men and usually begins during young adulthood. There is no cure for IBS, but there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of factors. Before we dive into the way IBS can affect you, let’s review what causes IBS.

There are many possible causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and it is likely that there is not just one single cause. Rather, IBS may develop as a result of a combination of different factors. Some of the most common potential causes include:

  1. Abnormalities in the digestive process: The way in which food moves through the digestive system (known as motility) can be affected by various factors, including nerve signals, hormones, and muscle contractions. If any of these aspects are not working properly, it can lead to problems with digestion and absorption, which can in turn trigger IBS symptoms.
  2. Sensitivity to certain foods: Many people with IBS find that their symptoms are triggered by certain foods. Common problem foods include dairy products, wheat, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, and fatty or fried foods. Keeping a food diary can help you to identify your own personal triggers.
  3. Infections: Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) caused by infections such as viruses or bacteria can sometimes lead to the development of IBS afterwards. This is thought to be due to changes in the normal balance of gut bacteria that occurs after an infection.
  4. Stress: It is well-established that stress can worsen IBS symptoms. Stressful life events (such as bereavement or divorce), work-related stress, and even day-to-day stresses like rush hour traffic can all contribute to an exacerbation of symptoms. Managing stress through relaxation techniques

such as yoga or meditation may help to ease symptoms somewhat.

So, how does IBS take an emotional toll on people? Well, the condition can be extremely debilitating, making it hard for sufferers to lead a normal life. IBS can also be very painful, causing cramping, bloating and gas. All of these symptoms can make it difficult for sufferers to maintain a healthy emotional state. IBS can have a major impact on mental health. Sufferers may experience anxiety and depression as a result of their condition. The fear of having a flare-up can also lead to social isolation and avoidance of activities that might trigger an episode. This can all have a profound effect on quality of life. It’s important to remember that you are not alone if you suffer from IBS. There are many others in the same situation and there is help available. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling and what treatment options might be right for you.

IBS is not unhelpable though! There are many possible causes of IBS, which can make it a difficult condition to manage. However, there are some simple lifestyle changes that can help relieve symptoms.

  1. Cutting out trigger foods: some people find that certain foods trigger their IBS symptoms. Common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, fatty and spicy foods.
  2. Keeping a food diary can help you identify your own personal triggers.
  3. Managing stress: Stress is a common trigger for IBS flare-ups. Learning how to manage stress through relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can be helpful in reducing symptoms.
  4. Exercise: Regular exercise has been shown to be beneficial for people with IBS. It can help relieve stress, improve gut motility and reduce inflammation.
  5. Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria that have health benefits when consumed. They can be found in supplements or fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut. Probiotics have been shown to relieve IBS symptoms in some studies, although more research is needed in this area.

IBS, like many illnesses, can extend its reach into the lives of people who suffer from it far past the direct impacts of the illness. That doesn’t mean you have to lay down and suffer though. Making sure that you are aware of the ways IBS can influence your emotional, physical, and mental state is a great first step towards improving your life with IBS.