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More about IBS & our IBS dietitians
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). It is a chronic condition characterized by a group of symptoms rather than a specific disease. IBS can cause discomfort and disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system.
While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, several factors, including abnormal muscle contractions in the intestine, nerve hypersensitivity, inflammation, and changes in the gut microbiota, are believed to contribute to its development.
Individuals with IBS may experience a range of symptoms, which can vary in intensity and duration. These symptoms may include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
IBS can persist for an extended period, often characterized by recurrent episodes of symptom flare-ups and periods of relative relief. The symptoms can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and daily activities, leading to the need for effective management strategies and supportive care.
What causes IBS?
The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is still unknown. However, it is believed to be a combination of various factors. IBS is considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder, characterized by problems with brain-gut interaction, where the brain and gut do not work together effectively.
This disruption in communication may affect the normal functioning of the digestive system and lead to IBS symptoms. Several factors may contribute to the development of IBS, and these factors can vary among individuals. Some of the possible causes and triggers of IBS include:
- Problems with the movement of the digestive system. In some individuals with IBS, the muscles in the intestines may contract abnormally, causing food to move either too slowly or too quickly through the digestive tract.
- Brain-gut interaction and sensitivity. The brain and gut have a complex connection, and disturbances in this interaction can influence the development of IBS. Some people with IBS may have heightened sensitivity to pain or discomfort in the gut.
- Psychological factors. Stressful or difficult early life events, such as physical or sexual abuse, as well as certain mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and somatic symptom disorder are more commonly observed in people with IBS.
- Infections and changes in gut bacteria. Bacterial infections in the digestive tract and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which involves an increase or change in the type of bacteria in the small intestine, have been associated with IBS symptoms in some individuals.
- Food intolerances and sensitivities. Certain foods may trigger or worsen digestive symptoms in people with IBS. Food intolerances or sensitivities can vary, and identifying and avoiding these trigger foods can help manage IBS symptoms.
Genetic factors may also play a role in predisposing some individuals to develop IBS, although further research is needed to better understand the genetic links to the condition.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can vary from person to person, but the most common ones include abdominal pain or discomfort that is often associated with bowel movements as well as changes in bowel habits. These changes can manifest as diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both depending on the subtype of IBS.
In addition to the primary symptoms mentioned, individuals with IBS may also experience the following:
- Bloating. Many people with IBS complain of bloating, which is a feeling of increased abdominal fullness or swelling.
- Incomplete bowel movements. Some individuals may have a sensation of not fully emptying their bowels after a bowel movement.
- Presence of whitish mucus in the stool. It is not uncommon for individuals with IBS to notice mucus in their stool, which can appear as a whitish or translucent substance.
- Symptom exacerbation during menstruation. Women with IBS often report an increase in symptoms during their menstrual periods, which may include heightened abdominal pain, changes in bowel patterns, and increased discomfort.
What are the risks of IBS?
If left untreated, IBS can have various repercussions on an individual’s health and quality of life. Here are some potential consequences of untreated IBS:
- Increased severity of symptoms. Without proper management, IBS symptoms such as chronic constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating may persist or worsen over time.
- Impact on daily functioning. Untreated IBS can significantly affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities, work, and engage in social interactions due to the unpredictable nature of symptoms and their impact on overall well-being.
- Reduced quality of life. The chronic nature of IBS and its associated symptoms can lead to decreased quality of life, emotional distress, anxiety, and depression.
- Development of additional health complications. Long-term untreated IBS may increase the risk of developing other gastrointestinal disorders such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and diverticulosis, as well as psychological conditions like chronic stress and mood disorders.
When to see an IBS dietitian
Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can greatly benefit from working with an IBS nutritionist. These specialized professionals have expertise in addressing the unique dietary needs and challenges associated with IBS.
They can provide personalized guidance and support to individuals with IBS to help alleviate symptoms and improve their quality of life. Consider working with an IBS nutritionist if you:
- Experience frequent and bothersome gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation.
- Have been diagnosed with IBS and want to better understand how your diet can affect your symptoms.
- Find it challenging to identify trigger foods or navigate dietary modifications to manage your IBS symptoms effectively.
- Need guidance on implementing an individualized dietary plan, including meal planning and food choices that are tailored to your specific needs and preferences.
- Require assistance in identifying and managing food intolerances or sensitivities that may contribute to your IBS symptoms.
How Zaya Care’s IBS dietitians can help
When working with an IBS nutritionist, individuals can expect personalized and comprehensive support. During the first appointment, the nutritionist conducts a detailed assessment, reviews the current diet to identify triggers, and develops a personalized dietary plan.
Follow-up appointments involve monitoring progress, making adjustments to the plan, providing education and guidance, and offering ongoing support and motivation. Working with an IBS nutritionist provides individuals with the tools, knowledge, and support to optimize their diet, manage symptoms, and improve their quality of life.
Benefits of working with a Zaya Care IBS nutritionist
Working with a Zaya Care IBS nutritionist offers numerous benefits for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These specialized professionals understand the unique nutritional needs and challenges associated with IBS.
One of the key advantages of working with a Zaya Care IBS nutritionist is their expertise in IBS-related nutrition. They can offer advice on managing symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements through dietary modifications and meal planning.
Zaya Care IBS nutritionists provide ongoing support to individuals, helping them navigate their nutritional needs, identify trigger foods, and develop strategies to manage symptoms and improve overall digestive health.
By working closely with their clients, these nutritionists empower them to make informed dietary choices, implement lifestyle changes, and enhance their overall quality of life while managing their IBS.