Thursday, July 27, 2006

Can Antidepressant Calm IBS?

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Treatment with so-called SSRI antidepressants seems to reduce abdominal symptoms and promote overall well being in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to results of a small trial.

These antidepressants, Dr. Jan Tack told Reuters Health, "could be considered in IBS patients who do not respond well enough to a classical treatment approach."

SSRIs are often used in the treatment of IBS "although evidence of their efficacy is scarce," Tack from University of Leuven in Belgium and colleagues note in the journal Gut.

They therefore compared treatment with the SSRI citalopram (brand name, Celexa) to treatment with an inactive "placebo" in 23 patients with IBS who were free of depression. They took one or other of the pills for six weeks, then switched to the other for six weeks after a three-week "washout" period.

"After three and six weeks of treatment, citalopram significantly improved abdominal pain, bloating, impact of symptoms on daily life, and overall well being compared with placebo," the team reports.

Citalopram's ability to alleviate several IBS symptoms seems unrelated to its effect on depression or anxiety, because depressed patients were excluded from the study and changes in mood did not correlate with IBS symptom improvement.

"Citalopram provided symptomatic benefit of rapid onset, was well tolerated, and was not associated with the side effects of tricyclic antidepressants, such as drowsiness or constipation," Tack and colleagues point out.

Many thanks to Megan Rauscher for this article.

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Can My Doctor Prescribe Medicine for IBS?

There is no cure for IBS. However, if you're having bad symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medicine to help you manage or lessen your symptoms.

For example, antispasmodic medicines may be prescribed to reduce cramping if your main symptom is pain. Hyoscyamine (some brand names: Anaspaz, Cystospaz, Levsin) and dicyclomine (some brand names: Bentyl, Di-Spaz) help relax the spasms in the colon. Heating pads and hot baths can also be comforting.

When diarrhea is a frequent problem, medicine such as loperamide (brand name: Imodium) may help.

Your doctor may give you tranquilizers or sedatives for short periods to treat anxiety that may be making your symptoms worse. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant for you if your symptoms are severe and you are feeling depressed.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Useful IBS Lifestyle Tips

1 - Many IBS sufferers go undiagnosed.

A national survey of 1,000 adults reveals more than 13 percent of them suffered from symptoms of IBS, but less than one out of five of them had actually been diagnosed with the condition, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). Among respondents who experienced distress similar to IBS, 85 percent called their symptoms bothersome and close to 30 percent said the symptoms interfered with their lifestyle at least once a week. Only 66 percent of those questioned had heard of IBS and only 17 percent had an understanding of the condition. The IFFGD recommends individuals who have significant bowel distress and pain contact their health care professional to gain an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment to reduce its symptoms.

2 - Identify food triggers using a journal.

For IBS sufferers, tracking the foods you eat and noting the times you experience distress will help uncover connections between eating and symptoms of IBS. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) publishes a "Personal Daily Diary" that individuals can use to record data. (To order the diary, call 1-888-964-2001, toll-free). Sufferers also can take detailed notes on their own for about two weeks that should include the types of foods eaten, the amount and time of consumption. It's important to also record the time and description of distressing bowel events or related pain and discomfort. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease recommends consulting with a registered dietician who can help interpret the connection between food consumption and irritable bowel problems and help modify your diet to minimize adverse episodes.

3 - Modify your diet.

IBS patients can make basic eating modifications on their own to decrease symptoms of IBS. According to the National Institutes of Health, the following food groups are associated with a worsening of IBS symptoms: high-fat foods, milk products, chocolate, alcohol and drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and colas, sorbitol sweetener (found in some chewing gum), and foods that produce gas, such as beans and certain vegetables. Many sufferers of IBS also are lactose intolerant, a condition which results in bowel distress and pain similar to IBS. Women experiencing both those conditions can experience dramatic reductions in symptoms by eliminating most milk products from their diet. Boosting water intake and adding fiber to the diet also can help alleviate some symptoms, especially for women with IBS who experience constipation.

4 - IBS patients more likely to have unnecessary surgery.

Before going under the knife, people with IBS should make sure the surgeries recommended by their health care professionals are really necessary. A study published in the medical journal Gastroenterology found IBS sufferers are at higher risk than others to have their gallbladders and appendixes removed unnecessarily. Hysterectomies and back surgery also were found to be more commonly performed on IBS patients among the nearly 90,000 individuals who participated in the survey. Gallbladder removal was twice as common for people with IBS than others without the syndrome, the study revealed. However, researchers found similar rates for coronary artery and peptic ulcer surgeries for survey respondents with and without IBS. If you're considering surgery, you may want to pursue a second opinion, if you are unsure about whether surgery is the right choice for you.

5 - Stress management therapies can help.

Since stress is considered one of the triggers of IBS symptoms, some stress management therapies-including hypnosis, cognitive therapy and biofeedback-can be helpful for some women living with this condition. Researchers using hypnotherapy to treat symptoms of IBS found patients experienced reduced anxiety and were better able to cope with their illness. Some physiological improvements also were reported -- such as relief of nausea, lethargy, and urinary problems-all common complaints among women with IBS. However, researchers cautioned about 25 percent of patients in the study failed to respond to hypnotherapy, and its long-term benefits are still being evaluated. Make sure a therapist using hypnosis is qualified to treat medical conditions. A partial list of clinicians can be found at the following site:

Thanks again to for this article.

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The Top 9 IBS Facts

1 - Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often confused with other conditions. It has been called by many names-colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, spastic bowel and functional bowel disease. Most of these terms are inaccurate. Colitis, for instance, means inflammation of the large intestine (the colon), while IBS doesn't cause inflammation.

2 - IBS symptoms affect up to 20 percent of the general population. It is the most common disorder diagnosed by gastroenterologists, and is among the most common health disorders in general.

3 - Women are two to three times more likely than men to suffer from IBS. Moreover, they seem to have more symptoms during their periods, suggesting that reproductive hormones play a role.

4 - IBS a chronic condition-you might develop it in your late 20s and have it for years-even all your life. Fortunately, the symptoms may come and go. The late 20s are the typical age of onset.

5 - IBS can be triggered by stress and symptom flares are associated with major stressful life events in the majority of patients. Studies indicate that some psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can alleviate abdominal pain and diarrhea associated with the syndrome.

6 - Although there is no cure, IBS is treatable. Symptoms can often be managed with dietary or lifestyle changes; in more severe cases, medication may be needed. Surgery is never considered a treatment option.

7 - There is no single, specific cause for IBS. It's a disorder affecting the neural functioning of the intestines.

8 - IBS symptoms vary by individual. They can include lower abdominal pain, bloating, excess gas, increased mucus in the stools, diarrhea and/or constipation, tiredness (even low-grade depression) and an urgent need to have a bowel movement (sometimes without being able to).

9 - Certain medicines and foods may trigger attacks. Culprits include caffeine, chocolate, milk products and alcohol.

Thanks to for this article

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What is the Best Natural IBS Treatment?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS has become a major health problem for over 25 million Americans. For some, the symptoms are mild and may not interfere with their daily activities. For others, IBS can severely compromise their quality of life.

Although there is no cure for IBS, there are certain lifestyle changes that may diminish the effects of the condition over time. One of these may include proper supplementation

For these reasons and more, many people are searching for natural IBS supplements that work (and don't break the bank). That is the purpose of this website-- to help you find real information and reviews about safe and effective IBS products that actually work

What are the benefits of using an IBS supplement that does what it says? An effective IBS supplement may be able to help regulate smooth muscle contractions in the stomach, inhibit harmful bacteria growth, and cleanse the intestinal tract.

A good IBS supplement, combined with exercise, sensible eating, and staying in touch with your doctor constitutes a smart and effective plan to dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Click here to read more . . .

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The Travellers Guide to IBS

Traveling with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease can be a frustrating experience. Any trip takes planning, but traveling with a medical condition requires some special preparation for comfort. No one wants to be stuck at home because they can't be very far from a restroom, so here are some tips to help plan your trip.

The top 4 things to organise are:
  1. Medications
  2. Immunization
  3. Physical Challenges
  4. Health Insurance

Click here to read more . . .

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Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who took part in hypnotherapy sessions reported reduced symptoms and improved quality of life, according to research published in the June issue of Journal of Clinical Nursing. Dr Graeme D Smith from University of Edinburgh studied 75 patients with IBS - which affects up to one in seven adults - before and after they took part in four to five treatment sessions over three months.

He discovered that before the sessions, women were most concerned with quality of life issues such as diet and energy and that men had the highest levels of anxiety and depression and worried about their physical role.

The 20 men and 55 women who took part in the study reported that hypnotherapy brought about significant improvements in the physical and emotional symptoms related to IBS.

Click here to read more . . .

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Is Bacteria Causing IBS?

The enigmatic-but-common condition known as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, a USC researcher has proposed in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers have suggested numerous theories to explain IBS, which affects as many as 36 million Americans. But according to gastrointestinal motility specialist Henry C. Lin, associate professor of medicine in the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the idea of a bacterial origin of IBS represents a major change in thinking.

Writing in the Aug. 18 issue of JAMA, Lin proposed that ordinary bacteria normally confined to the large intestine may expand into the small intestine, prompting uncomfortable bloating and gas after meals, a change in bowel movements as well as an immune response that may account for the flu-like illness so common in the IBS patient, including such debilitating symptoms as headaches, muscle and joint pains and chronic fatigue.

Read the full artice here . . .

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Understanding the Causes of IBS

Recent physiological and psychosocial data have emerged to improve our understanding of IBS.

A biopsychosocial model of IBS involving physiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral factors is now felt to be involved in symptom generation.

Physiological factors implicated in the etiology of IBS symptoms include: visceral hypersensitivity to spontaneous contractions and to balloon distention of the bowel, autonomic dysfunction including exaggerated colonic motility response to stress and alterations in fluid and electrolyte handling by the bowel, and an alteration in the gastrocolonic response.

However, alterations in these physiological parameters are generally found in only a subset of patients and frequently do not correlate with bowel symptoms. Behavioral factors such as stressful life events are reported by up to 60% of IBS patients to be associated with the first onset of the disease or with its exacerbation.

Laboratory stressors have also been shown to affect gastrointestinal motility and visceral perception. Cognitive factors such as inappropriate coping styles and illness behavior are common in IBS patients and influence healthcare utilization and clinical outcomes.

Emotional and psychiatric factors, such as anxiety and depression, are present in 40 to 60% of IBS patients seeking healthcare with increased prevalence in those patients presenting to tertiary referral centers.

IBS patients who have sought medical care are more likely to have abnormal psychological profiles, abnormal illness behaviors, and psychiatric diagnoses than patients with other medical illnesses.

Many thanks to Laura Zurawski & Dr. Anthony Lembo for this posting.

Click here to

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Alternative IBS Medicine

Some of these more non-traditional therapies may help to relieve the symptoms of IBS:

Acupuncture – Can provide relief from chronic pain. Some people use acupuncture to help relax muscle spasms and improve bowel function.

Herbs – Peppermint acts as a natural antispasmodic and relaxes smooth muscles in the intestines although it may aggravate heartburn.

Probiotics – These are good bacteria that are found in certain foods and are present naturally in the intestines. Yogurt and dietary supplements contain probiotics.

Note: Before using any medication, alternative or otherwise you should consult your doctor.

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Useful IBS Resources

The following link lists in detail different websites covering almost every conceivable aspect of IBS:

I recommend bookmarking this page to your favourites - as I know it will prove useful.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Living with IBS

A person living with IBS faces daily challenges. It may cause you pain or embarresment and can affect the quality of your life.

There are a number of things that you can do to help you to cope with your IBS:
  • Learn about IBS - knowing as much as possible about your condition can help you take better charge of it.
  • Identify your IBS symptom triggers - by knowing this you can take steps to avoid / remove these triggers from your life.
  • Speak to others - share your experiences with other IBS sufferers. You are not alone. One in ten people is affected by IBS!

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Treatment of IBS

Some people with IBS may not require any treatment, depending on the symptoms that they present.

However, medication is available for those who persistently have constipation, diarrohea and/or abdominal pain.

The best way to treat IBS is to eat a healthy diet, avoid foods that make you feel worse and reduce your stress levels.

The following may reduce your IBS symptoms:
  • Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet may help to ease the discomfort of constipation. however, there are two types of fibre (soluble and insoluble). Soluble fibre helps both diarrohea and constipation but Insoluble fibre may make diarrohea worse.
  • Record the food that you are eating and try to spot a correlation to the level of IBS symptoms that you are suffering.
  • Use anti-diarrohea medication if diarrohea is the predominant symptom.
  • Anti-spasmodic agents may help to relieve cramps and abdominal pain. However there are some side-effects to using these agents which may present blurred vision and dry mouth.
  • Muscle relaxants may help to relieve spasms. Again however side-effects may include nausea, headache, itchy skin,, rash and dizziness.
  • Peppermint oil sometimes helps with stomach cramps, but may occasionally cause heartburn.
  • Reduce stress in your life. Get regular exercise, take more time off work, enjoy yourself!
Did you know? Two out of three people with IBS feel that a dietary allergy or intolerance is to blame for their IBS!

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Diagnosing IBS

Although there is no specific test available to detect the presence of IBS. This makes diagnosis difficult.

Doctors will look at your history and try to detect a pattern of the above symptoms. If the symptoms have only recently started your doctor may perform some test to rule out for other similar conditions that resemble IBS; such as Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

A blood test may be required to rule out anaemia and stools will be teated for blood.

Other tests that may be required to rule out other causes of your symptoms include:
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy - examines the lower part of the colon with a flexible, lighted tube.
  • Colonoscopy - a small flexible tube is used to examine the entire length of the colon.
  • CT scan - produces a cross sectional X-ray image of your internal organs.
  • Lactose intolerance tests - lactase is an enzyme you need to digest the sugar found in dairy products. Some people lack this enzyme and consequently this may be causing many of the symptoms.

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IBS Symptoms

Symptoms normally begin in early adulthood and generally begin recurring from then on.

Common symptoms of IBS:
  • Bloating and gas
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea, (especially after eating or early morning)
  • Feeling like your bowelis not empty
  • Strong urge to have a bowel movement
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
Some people with IBS suffer intermittent flare-ups that may worsen in times of stress.

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What causes IBS?

There is no known cause for IBS. Although many doctors agree that symptoms can be triggered by psychological as well as physical factors.

Some experts believe that IBS is caused by by nerve changes that control sensation or muscle contractions in the bowel. In women, hormonal changes may be the root cause.

Food passes through the stomach, the small intestine and the large intestine (colon) by means of regular muscular contractions. However, with IBS the normal rythm of intestinal contractions is disrupted, resulting in diaorrea, constipation and internal spasms.

Did you know?
Certain food may trigger IBS! Dairy products, caffeine and alcohol are some of the most troublesome. Stress and hormonal changes can also lead to IBS.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as 'Spastic Colon' ) is a very common condition affecting the intestines and bowels.

It is characterised by a number of uncomfortable symptoms including bloating, cramps, heartburn, diarrohea and comstipation. While it is troublesome and can cause great discomfort, it is not life-threatening, not related to cancer and does not cause permanent damage to the bowel.

In people who have IBS, the intestines squeeze either too hard or not hard enough and consequently can cause food to move too quickly or too slowly through the intestines.

Did you know? Up to one in five American adults has IBS and it accounts for one out of every ten doctor visits! Women are twice as likely to to be affected as males.

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Welcome IBS Sufferers

As a person living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), I have decided to start this blog to share the lessons that I have learned since it was first suggested to me that I may have IBS.

I hope that you all will find them useful and benificial to you in your on-going battle with IBS.

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