Gas, bloating, pain, altered bowel function?
What is irritable bowel syndrome?… it’s a word used loosely to explain many a digestive complaint, but is it actually a medical condition with key medically diagnosable features?,… I’m not so sure.
Often, a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is a convenient way to say “I don’t know what is causing your digestive discomfort’… “you must have irritable bowel syndrome.”
For me in clinical practice, too often I see this term used to explain a whole range of digestive symptoms without any understanding of potential drivers….
Yes, the bowel might be “irritated” as the term states, but what drives this irritation?
There are many potential drivers of Irritable bowel Syndrome… careful examination and prudent testing can elicit data that allows us to successfully understand and treat IBS.
Below you will see my top drivers of Irritable bowel syndrome and what you can do about it to re- gain control of your digestive health.
FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Monosaccharids and Polyols)
FODMAP describes a condition characterized by the impaired intestinal absorption of dietary sugars. It includes fructose found in fruit and vegetables, lactose found in dairy, sorbitol found in a range of fruits and vegetables. The symptoms are very much irritable bowel syndrome like with pain, bloating, gas and altered bowel function. A simple hydrogen and methane breath test will show if this condition is driving your irritable bowel syndrome.
You will also note your symptoms aggravated by fruit intake and often onions and legumes, however at times it can be difficult to relate symptoms to certain foods.
Very relevant at the moment. In fact, more than half of the people I see in my clinic with digestive symptoms have FODMAP issues.
SIBO (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
In certain individuals, bacteria can migrate from the large intestine up into the small intestine where they are not supposed to be. Dietary sugar and starch are then fermented by these bacteria causing an irritable bowel.
Again, a simple hydrogen and methane breath test will show if this condition is driving your digestive complaints.
You will also note your symptoms aggravated by sugar or starch intake, again however, at times it can be difficult to relate symptoms to certain foods.
70 % of our immune system is located around the intestines, so it makes sense that people can develop immune responses to certain foods, especially if the intestinal lining has been damaged in some way by things like excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, antibiotics, parasites etc.
Certain molecules found in food can react in the gut lining causing a range of irritable bowel symptoms. Common sensitivities include eggs, diary and gluten. A simple IgG food sensitivity panel will show if this is the cause of your digestive symptoms.
Changes in gut ecology can have a profound effect on not only the digestive system, but health in general. Yeast infections due to a diet high in sugar and overuse of antibiotics will cause a range of digestive symptoms as will parasites and bacterial infections.
I recommend a CDSA (comprehensive digestive stool analysis ) for this, especially if there has been a history of overseas travel or a high level of antibiotic use. This test will provide information on all the good verses bad bacteria living in the large intestine, plus how well you are digesting your food. An excellent test for those with chronic digestive symptoms.
Stress is a known trigger of digestive complaints. We know that the brain communicates with the digestive tract. We often note that when we are under acute stress, the digestive system can become overactive. While a careful case history taking should show the correlation, a saliva hormone tests will show if the stress hormone cortisol is impacting health.