Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diarrhea: How to Manage It

Irritable bowel syndrome is a problem that affects numerous people of different ages. The symptoms of this health problem may vary, but one of the most common includes diarrhea. Obviously, this symptom can seriously affect the quality of a person’s life, which is why leaving it untreated is never a good idea. In this article, you can read more about different ways to treat the problem.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a health problem affecting the large intestine in the body. The common symptoms of this chronic disorder include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Mucus in the stool

The severity of symptoms varies from one person to another and thus what helps one individual may not be enough for another. Milder cases of IBS can be managed by choosing a proper diet and avoiding stress, but more severe signs require medical attention.

What are the causes of IBS?

At the moment, it is not clear what exactly causes a person to experience IBS. But, there are a number of risk factors that are associated with the higher chances of developing this condition. They include:

  • Nervous system problems

One of the top reason for IBS is poor coordination between the signals of the intestines and the brain cause the overreaction of the body to the normal process of digestion. As a result, a person experiences pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

  • Gut problems

Different changes in the microbes of your gut, such as the appearance of viruses, fungi, or the overgrowth of bacteria may lead to the development of IBS.

  • Intestinal contractions

Abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines can lead to diarrhea, bloating, and gas in individuals. While the muscles have to contract to make sure that food is moved in the body, they can become too intense and last longer thus causing the mentioned problems.

What are the common triggers of IBS?

IBS is considered a chronic condition, but a person will experience periods when the symptoms get worse and also periods when they feel completely normal. It is important for an individual to pay attention to their lifestyle and notice when they experience the exacerbation of their condition. Some of the common triggers of IBS include such:

  • Stress

Similar to a range of other chronic illnesses, IBS can become worse due to stress. It is not a cause of the symptoms, but a person under stress may notice that their condition gets worse, and they get more frequent signs when they are going through stressful situations.

  • Diet

It is quite rare for IBS to be caused by a specific food allergy. Usually, people who have IBS are more sensitive to specific foods that trigger the worsening of symptoms. The only way to find out what those products are is to pay attention to your reactions after you eat them.

Some steps to take to manage IBS diarrhea

As it was mentioned, diarrhea is a common symptom of IBS. Every person is different, but there are several steps that you can take to minimize the chances of managing this problem:

  • Make sure you get enough fiber

Fiber is essential in controlling diarrhea in people with IBS. There exist different fiber supplements and mixtures that can be consumed in those moments when a person experiences diarrhea. Soluble fiber is considered best for IBS diarrhea and there are foods that you can get it from – barley, beans, the flesh of fruit, and more.

  • Pay attention to your diet

One of the best things you can do is pay attention to what you eat if you suffer from IBS diarrhea. If you know that you are prone to this problem, you should start incorporating foods that will help make your stool more solid. This includes rice, bananas, whole-grain products, and more. But, this will work only if you eat them on a regular basis.

In addition to adding products, you should figure out your triggers and try to avoid them. Some of the most common food triggers that cause diarrhea include carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners, fatty foods, chocolate

  • Have the right medication on hand

Antidiarrheal medication should be prescribed by your doctor based on your medical history. The most commonly used drug for IBS diarrhea is Imodium, which can be purchased over-the-counter. Containing Loperamide, this medication works by slowing down the movement of the intestines, so the stool becomes more solid and there is a reduction in the frequency of bowel movements. You can learn more about this medication here:

  • Find ways to manage stress

One of the important steps that should be implemented by anyone with IBS is learning ways to manage stress. Some of the commonly suggested ways include regular exercising while yoga is one of the best options, as it allows you to fully focus on the body. Adding more physical activities, such as walking, swimming, and riding a bike are great ways to reduce stress in your life. Getting enough sleep is also essential to allow your body to rejuvenate. There are also different meditations and breathing techniques that you can use both in moments of stress and in your daily life.

  • Consider cognitive behavioral therapy

Not a lot of people know but cognitive behavioral therapy or even hypnotherapy can help you prevent diarrhea caused by your condition. Such therapies are focused on working with fear and discomfort associated with the disease and thus can help reduce the symptoms.

  • Consult a medical professional regarding treatment

Sometimes the treatment using drugs is not as straightforward as taking antidiarrheal medications. In some instances, a doctor may prescribe antidepressants, antispasmodic drugs, or other treatments to help patients that experience diarrhea.

Depending on a person, the methods that will work will be different. Usually, it takes a combination of the mentioned steps to notice a difference. Consulting a medical specialist and going through the necessary diagnostic procedures is important to select just the right treatment.

What are some of the IBS risk factors?

Experiencing symptoms similar to IBS is quite common and can happen to anyone. Chronic IBS with diarrhea, on the other hand, requires more attention. According to the statistics, the risk factors associated with this chronic disease include the following:

  • Being under the age of 50

It is unclear why, but more people under the age of 50 have been diagnosed with IBS.

  • Female gender

It seems that women are more likely to develop IBS and this is especially relevant for those who undergo estrogen therapy during their menopause stage.

  • Mental health problem

The work of the gut and intestines is highly sensitive to emotions and a person’s mental health. For this reason, those who have experienced abuse or have been diagnosed with various mental problems, such as depression, anxiety, and others, are more likely to have IBS.

  • Family history

Genetic predisposition is something that can increase the chances of developing IBS, so if your close relative has this problem, there is a risk that you may develop it as well.