Luca Keller
by on November 22, 2019

Cramping? Experiencing very frequent intestine symptoms like constipation or diarrhoea? Maybe you suffering from a very common intestinal disorder: the Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS.

IBS is usually a lifelong condition with a wide range of symptoms that arises over time in different forms of duration and intensity. It's estimated that 20% of Swiss people has suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome in its lifetime.  Also its more common in women population: about twice more frequent than in men population. 
IBS usually affect adult from 30 years old but can affect younger people, even children and teenagers. 

Causes of IBS are not well understood yet but research at has shown that probably have a multifactorial aetiology

Often irritable colon syndrome is triggered after a gastroenteritis infection.

In Switzerland the incidence of gastroenteritis is very high with more than 17 million cases per year, and approximately one in four of them are foodborne. This gives us the dimension of the diffusion of this particular digestive tract disease in Switzerland. 
Another possible cause of IBS is of endocrine nature and involves the role of Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) in stress related Irritable Bowel cases. 

The major symptom of IBS is Abdominal pain, accompanied with changes in defecation frequency, in stool form and intestinal bloating. Symptomatology varies in intensity and frequency from people to people but can be confused with those of other intestinal conditions such as cancer and Crohn Disease. When symptoms like rectal bleeding, anaemia and weight loss accompanies the more common IBS symptomatology further investigation is necessary. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease shares some symptoms with IBS like bloating and diarrhoea and in both conditions in the patient's stool can be present mucus. IBS diagnosis is often an exclusion one, though a more modern medical approach to irritable bowel Syndrome encourages a diagnosis based on positive ROME IV diagnostic criteria.

Far more dangerous are similarity between IBS symptoms and those of colon cancer

People affected from the two conditions share abdominal cramping, constipation and bloating but cancer patients developed nausea, weight loss and bleeding from the rectum, but often only when the tumor is in an advanced stadium. Colon cancer is the third more common neoplasia in Australia with more than 15000 new cases and 5000 deaths every year hence the importance of ruling out this disease in the diagnostic process. 

As said before being a woman is a risk factor for irritable bowel syndrome, considering the major incident of the condition in Australian women. Who belongs to a lower socioeconomic status is associated with a greater risk to suffer from IBS, probably due to worst diet and increased stress factors. Even familiarity with people affected by IBS is a risk factor suggesting genetic factors in the triggering of the disease. 

IBS is not a condition that leads to an increase mortality rate, but can reduce the quality of life in affected people, leading to psychological problems. 
The treatment of Irritable Bowel syndrome is primarily focused on the adoption of a proper diet and reassurance of the patient, to avoid further stress factors. Dietary recommendations includes consumption of less insoluble and more soluble fibres, the avoiding of peculiar foods such as alcohol, caffeine and adoption of a low FODMAP diet. The last being a dietary regime consisting of reduction in foods containing fermentable carbohydrates that causes excess gas production leading to diarrhoeal episodes and abdominal pain. 

Regular exercise workout can relieve the IBS symptoms and doctors advice to accompany physical activity with diets. 

Psychological therapies are often very effective to improve symptoms of IBS. Stress and Anxiety are a common factor in triggering of irritable bowel disease, taking into account the fact that in Australia anxiety-related conditions are increasing, with more than 30% of women and 20% of men affected at some point of their life. Handling these psychological disorders can be a successful way to treat and even resolve, in some cases, IBS problems. Psychotherapy is a major form of treatment for stress related IBS but it's a matter of fact that the use of antidepressants like SSRIs can significantly reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Medicines that treat symptoms when they emerge are commonly used by patients: antispasmodic drugs like mebeverine (Buscopan) can relieve symptomatology as do laxatives in constipation inducted by IBS. Use of  Probiotic preparations in treatment of IBS is controversial but research has successfully proved their positive role in diarrhoeic episodes. Peppermint oil has shown properties useful to relief symptoms in many patients affected by irritable bowel syndrome and is widely used in Switzerland for this purpose. Another common herbal treatment to IBS and other disorders of gastrointestinal tract is Iberogast, a phytopharmacon with nine herbal extract which has shown a good ability to handle IBS symptoms. 

Even though Irritable bowel syndrome is a common intestinal health  condition its causes are not so clear and treatments are mainly symptomatic. Probably the best advice for the best management of the disease is to changing lifestyle by adopting a good diet, taking care of the physical health and get rid of anxiety factors maybe with the help of a therapist. 


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