Treatment For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Treatment for Irritable Bowel SyndromeIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of gastrointestinal disorders characterized by constipation, diarrhea or both. Commonly found in women more than in men, 10-15% of adults in the United States are affected by IBS. The goal of the treatment of IBS is on relieving pain and controlling diarrhea or constipation. The objective of this article is to discuss the medical management of IBS with major points on the following treatment:

  • Pharmacology
  • Surgery

  • Mental health management

Treatment of Symptoms with Medications

Besides changes in your bowel pattern, those who are diagnosed with IBS may also manifest symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain and distention. With the aim of alleviating pain and controlling diarrhea and constipation, the following drugs make up the pharmacologic treatment of IBS:

  • Antidiarrheal agents. These help control diarrhea and the symptoms associated with it. A popular example of antidiarrheal drug is Loperamide.
  • Antidepressants. Antidepressants are not only drugs of choice to treat depression but may also be used as a pharmacological treatment in IBS. Antidepressants are indicated for patients with chronic, progressive abdominal pain caused by IBS. Examples of commonly used antidepressants are Imipramine and Paroxetine.
  • Anticholinergics. Anticholinergics are prescribed to reduce abdominal spasms and cramping. An example of an anticholinergic drug is Propantheline.
  • Tegaserod.  Tegaserod is a 5-HT4 agonist marketed as Zelnorm. The drug is specifically prescribed to women with IBS whose very complaint is chronic constipation. Yet, one caveat of Tegaserod use is that diarrhea may develop as an undesired side effect.

Surgical Treatment of IBS

IBS does not require or warrant surgical treatment. The damage caused to the intestine from inflammation brought on by other diseases is typically solved with a combination of medication, surgery and lifestyle adjustments, but with IBS, the only solutions are medication, social support, and better lifestyle choices.

These are our recommendations for IBS patients looking to improve their day to day experience with IBS:

  • Nutrition. Better nutrition will reduce episodes of diarrhea or constipation. Avoiding gas-forming foods and beverages such as peanuts, cabbage, soda, beans and spicy foods reduces stress on the GI tract. When you make any diet change, you should take a gradual approach. Focus on fiber-rich foods to better manage diarrhea or constipation symptoms.
  • Exercise. Exercise works by relieving mental and physical stress. Research shows that exercise increases GI motility and helps manage your constipation. Endorphins produced during and felt throughout the day after exercise are shown to reduce stress and increase happiness.

Treatment of IBS and Mental Health Problems

The truth is there is actually a strong link between irritable bowel syndrome and mental health problems, anxiety and depression in particular. Studies revealed that anywhere from 60-90%, of individuals who are seeking treatment for IBS will likely suffer psychiatric problems. These mental health disturbances, which can be anxiety, depression or panic disorder, aggravate IBS symptoms.

It is unclear why anxiety disorders occur in IBS patients but several factors make some individuals more susceptible than others. For example, women are substantially more affected than men due to the presence of certain hormones.

The following are methods you can apply today to improve your mental health:

  • Stress management techniques. Doctors affirmed that by managing stress, there will be an improvement in IBS symptoms. Listening to calming music, taking a bath, meditating, or exercising are great ways to reduce body tension and stress.
  • Hypnotherapy. Despite the controversial use of hypnotherapy in IBS patients, reports say that virtually 80% of patients have a positive response to hypnotherapy treatment. The exact mechanism of hypnotherapy is not yet determined but it is widely reported that it halts recurrence of symptoms. Hypnotherapy is a form of behavioral therapy which also includes other remedial processes such as biofeedback, cognitive therapy and psychotherapy.
  • Join self-help groups. Also called support groups, self-help groups are a collection of individuals who are similarly diagnosed with a health disorder, able to provide support for each other in numbers. By building connections with people who experience similar problems, self-help groups may help you cope better and feel less confined to your condition.