What Can I Do About Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
February 17, 2000
Kimberly: I have had irritable bowel syndrome since 1992. It hits me three consecutive days a week after every meal. And I mean immediately after every meal. I can't even get to my car; it makes traveling very hard.
Dr. Dean: I'll bet.
Visit the Digestion Center
Irritable bowel syndrome is the number one stomach complaint that people see doctors for. It's a perplexing condition that is as last getting a lot of play in the medical journals. There's a lot of research in progress, although I don't yet have any exciting findings to report.
The definition of IBS is any cramping discomfort in the abdomen accompanied by any alteration in bowel habits. Possible causes are drinking too much coffee, eating too much fiber, or lactose intolerance.
We do suspect that people with irritable bowel syndrome may have an exaggerated gastrocolic reflex. This is the reflex we all have that signals the lower intestines to make room for incoming food.
It also seems to be triggered by stress and anxiety. Nervousness causes some of us to get sweaty, some of us to get headaches, and some of us to get churning intestines.
Because of the mind/body connection, biofeedback and meditation are practices that might ease irritable bowel syndrome.
Just don't give up. Often if a doctor has no solution to a problem, the patient just goes away. You need to keep trying. Talk to a gastroenterologist who is experienced with and interested in this condition, and wants to present you with alternatives.
In upcoming weeks I want to post more news about it to HealthCentral.com, so stay connected.