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Everything You Want to Know About Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

by Aveda Ayur 28 Mar 2024

Intestinal disorders encompass a wide range of conditions affecting the digestive system, primarily the intestines, which play a crucial role in the absorption of nutrients and elimination of waste from the body. These disorders can vary in severity and may result from various factors, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, infections, and autoimmune reactions. One of such diseases affecting intestinal working and absorption is IBS or Irritable bowel syndrome. This condition can affect any age group and occurs equally in males and  women health and wellness. The condition is becoming common among the Indian population and awareness about the same is also increasing.

Key Takeaways

  • IBS is Irritable bowel syndrome and is different from IBD that is Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Its prevalence varies in northern and southern regions of India. In North India this condition is very common.
  • The condition can affect adolescents, young adults and even old aged people.
  • It is of three types: IBS with Constipation, IBS with Diarrhea and Mixed type of IBS with varying episodes of constipation and diarrhea.
  • Rome criteria is generally used to diagnose IBS.
  • According to the Rome IV criteria, a diagnosis of IBS requires the presence of recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least one day per week in the last three months, associated with changes in frequency of stools or appearance of the stools.

What is IBS?

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder which is characterized by chronic abdominal discomfort or pain. It also involves changes in the bowel habits like diarrhea, constipation or combination of both. It is considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning there are no structural abnormalities or visible signs of disease in the digestive tract.

In Ayurveda it is correlated with Sannipataj Grahni or Sangrehni. In this condition vitiation of tridosha is considered due to factors influencing aggravation of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

What are the causes of IBS?

Causes of IBS

The cause of IBS as per modern science are as described below:

Lifestyle

Living a sedentary lifestyle and not following a particular routine is not good for digestion. This results in slowing of metabolism and intestinal movements.

Diet

The IBS diet which is low in fiber and high in fat, alcohol, excessive dairy intake, spicy food, caffeine & artificial sweeteners are one of the most common factors that play a role in the occurrence of IBS.

Psychological factors

Recurrent stress, anxiety and depression can interrupt gastrointestinal working by interfering with gut brain axis. It plays a crucial role in the regulation of gastrointestinal function and is dysregulated in individuals with IBS.

Ayurveda states somewhat the same as modern science. It states:

यो हि भुङ्क्ते विधिं त्याक्त्वा ग्रहणीदोषजान् गदान्|

स लौल्याल्लभते शीघ्रं, वक्ष्यन्तेऽतः परं तु ते||Charak Samhita Chapter 15 verse 41||

The verse above suggests that an  individual who indulges in food without following the rules and regulation of diet intake, then he or she quickly will suffer from diseases caused by the vitiation of Grahani because of his/her greedy habits. The disease of grahani is called Grahani gada.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is characterized by a diverse range of symptoms, which can vary in severity and duration from person to person. The most common  IBS symptoms  include:

  1. Abdominal Pain and Discomfort: A peculiar hallmark symptom of IBS. The pain or discomfort may vary in intensity and location. This pain is described as cramping or aching and is typically located in the lower abdomen.
  2. Changes in Bowel Habits: Following changes can be noticed in bowel habit.
  3. Diarrhea: Some people with IBS experience frequent episodes of loose or watery stools.
  4. Constipation: Others may have infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stools, which can be hard and lumpy.
  5. Alternating Bowel Habits: Some individuals may alternate between episodes of diarrhea and constipation, often without a clear pattern. It is also called a mixed type of IBS. Bloating and
  6. Abdominal Distension: Many people with IBS experience bloating, a sensation of fullness or swelling in the abdomen, which can be accompanied by visible distention or swelling of the abdomen.
  7. Excessive Gas and Flatulence: Increased gas production and passing gas more frequently than usual.
  8. Mucus in the Stool: Mucus with stools can appear as a clear or white substance mixed with the stool or before or after passing of stools.
  9. Feeling of Incomplete Evacuation: A feeling of incomplete bowel emptying after a bowel movement.
  10. Urgency: A sudden and urgent need to have a bowel movement is another common symptom of IBS, particularly in individuals with diarrhea-predominant IBS.
  11. Fatigue and Disrupted Sleep: Many individuals with IBS experience fatigue and disrupted sleep patterns.

The symptoms of IBS can fluctuate over time, with periods of remission where symptoms are minimal or absent, followed by periods of exacerbation or flare-ups where symptoms worsen. Additionally, some individuals may experience symptoms triggered by specific foods, stress, hormonal changes etc. 

How is IBS Diagnosed?

IBS diagnosed

The IBS is diagnosed using following methods:

  • Blood Test: It is done to rule out blood hemoglobin levels and inflammation due to any infection (indicated by TLC count)
  • Stool Test: To rule out the presence of any parasites, infections, mucus and blood.
  • Colonoscopy: To visualize the inside of the colon and rule out IBS or IBD.

Treatment for IBS?

IBS Care Pack

The treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) aims to alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life, and address any underlying factors contributing to the condition. It includes modification of lifestyle and diet. Following Low FODMAP diet is really important for the patients of IBS. Also excluding dairy, spices, stress, high fatty food and avoiding changes in sleep pattern is equally important.

In Ayurveda,(IBS care pack) along with diet and lifestyle modification some formulations or herbs can be of great help. Herbs like Kutaj, Bael Fruit, Pit Papda, Patol, Pomegranate, Marigold Flower and leaves. Formulations like Kamdudha Ras, Praval pishti, Praval Panchamrit, Kamdudh Ras with Moti, Mahashankh Vati can be of great help in case of many gastrointestinal disorders including IBS.

Summary

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common Gastrointestinal Disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain or discomfort, along with changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both. It affects up to 10-15% of the global population and significantly impacts quality of life.The exact cause of IBS remains unclear, but it is believed to involve a combination of factors, including abnormal gastrointestinal motility, visceral hypersensitivity, changes in gut microbiota, intestinal inflammation, dietary factors, and psychological factors such as stress and anxiety.

 

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