Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS, seems to be one of the main culprit to my pain and suffering. What is IBS? Well I have been on the hunt to find the answer to that question. Thankfully, I have a wonderful Digestive Health Doctor, who has been such a huge blessing. I only wish we could have met sooner.
IBS is usually brought on by a time of extreme stress, mental or physical, and one who has it will feel the attacks of intestinal pain normally during times of stress. What I was told by my doctor, is that IBS is painful spasms of the intestines. This can cause some or all of these symptoms: pain, constipation, diarrhea, malnutrition (due to the fact that one is unable to properly digest food), bloating, headaches, pain from head to toe (due to all the nerves associated with the digestive tract), loss of hair, and the list goes on.
IBS Low Starch Diet has a great diagram below:
When one is stressed the body sends out stress hormones called cortisol and epinephrine that end up in your stomach. A normal digestive system will digest those hormones, with IBS those hormones stay in the stomach and that's bad news! My doctor told me to get as de-stressed as possible. I had to laugh and told her, "I'm a part time college student, homeschooling my six year old, try to keep up with my two year old. All while catering to my husband who just broke his leg just before Christmas and now has a plat and ten screws in his leg." To which she laughed and replied, "OK...so, you are going to be experiencing flare ups!"
What do you do if you think you might have it?
1. Go to your Doctor! It is an embarrassing topic however it won't go away on it's own. In fact it will only get worst.
2. Diet is key to IBS, you will need to eliminate a lot of foods, mostly ones that contain high amounts of fructose, glucose, and lactose. (I have to say I miss my cheese and yogurt!)
3. Miralax will become your best friend!! You can take it everyday, all it does is pull water into the colon making it easier for you to go. It can be pricey, so if you have good insurance ask your doctor about being prescribed Polyethylene Glycol, it's the prescription form of Miralax. I had just found out about this today at my general doctor's office, with how much I was taking it will end up saving me $40 a month!
4. Probiotics! More then not if you have IBS enzymes in your digestive tract are all out of whack, that is if you have any enzymes at all. This makes it even harder to digest foods, the probiotics stabilize and/or increase the enzymes making digestion a much less painful processes,
5. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. The movement gets your blood pumping, helps get things moving, and it's great for your body.
6. Keep a log. Log what you eat, when you ate, your stress level, what is your pain level, and your daily bowel movements.
This is all things that I personally have been doing over the last 2 weeks and already I have seen a huge difference. However, if the pain doesn't completely go away by my next appointment in 3 weeks I will have to go to Step 7.
7. The FODMAP diet. It is a very strict diet for 6 weeks and then you slowly bring in foods to see what or if certain foods trigger your IBS. To find out more here is a very informative page at Web MD: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center
Hopefully this will help others as much as it has helped me. Just remember your Doctor is your greatest weapon in fighting this, don't do it alone!