Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is the medical condition given to a collection of unexplained symptoms relating to a disturbance of the colon or large intestine in the digestive system. Approximately a third of the population at some point in their lives will be affected by this condition and about one in ten people suffer severe symptoms. Each and every person will have different symptoms.
There are many symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and may include:
- Abdominal pain and spasms usually relieved by going to the toilet;
- Diarrhoea, Constipation or an erratic bowel habit;
- Bloating or swelling of the abdomen;
- Rumbling noises and excessive passage of wind;
- Urgency and possibly Incontinence;
- Sharp pain felt low down inside the rectum;
- Sensation of incomplete bowel movement.
Diagnosis is usually by doing a range of investigations that include: X-rays, blood tests, endoscopies and other diagnostic tests, with the results not revealing any obvious abnormality. Other symptoms frequently occur such as headaches, dizziness, backache, passing urine frequently, tiredness, muscle and joint pains, ringing in the ears, indigestion, belching, nausea, shortness of breath, anxiety and depression. It is suggested that stress can often affect bowel movements as it causes the bowel to be more sensitive and less tolerant of food.
Despite research and there has been no cure found to date. Medical treatment varies depending on the source and often people take to the internet to find information which could be useful in their case. Advice on diet, relaxation, anti-spasmodic drugs and low dose antidepressants appear to be usual types of treatment. Some find help from counsellors, psychotherapists, complementary medicine practitioners etc. Hypnotherapy is an ideal form of treatment for IBS as first and foremost it actually relaxes the person and this seems to be a major symptom in most sufferers. However, IBS takes at least 3-4 sessions to calm the bowel and there are hospital consultants who are trained hypnotherapists in the UK who actually use hypnotherapy as part of the NHS treatment. Acupuncture and other complementary therapies may help in this disorder.
IBS is more frequently diagnosed in women compared with men, in young people compared with old and in western countries rather than the developing world. It is commonly associated with emotional tension and is frequently triggered by life changes or stressful events.
There have been several research projects on IBS over several decades but there has never been confirmed cause, only contributory factors. One of the factors has shown that if you have had a VIRAL not bacterial bowel infection (gastroenteritis) then there is a 6-7 folk risk increase of IBS within a short period of time. Taking antibiotics has also been heavily questioned in studies as it is said that these destroy the good gut bacterial growth for around six months. Pre and probiotics have been shown as one of the treatments helping decrease the IBS symptoms. In fact, there has recently been a trial on faecal matter transplant which is showing good progress in reducing symptoms as well as increasing the good gut bacteria.
From a psychological point it appears that women report more severe symptoms than men and a high proportion of people have severe anxiety or depression. 5.2% of the population have IBS and the symptoms appear within an age range of 30-50 years old and as stated above, female dominant. 2.5% of these cases report to have been sexual abused in childhood but obviously these are only the people who are referred for hospital treatment. Stress changes gastrointestinal motility. There may be many more cases who don’t come forward.
There also seems to be a link to children having IBS where their mother has it or another illness, protective parents and childhood adversity. If a parent had IBS the child is absent from school more often, attends GP appointments with them and the child responds to the parent’s illness and takes onboard the symptoms subconsciously. There also can be a problem if the child has been programmed to empty their bowels at the same time each day. There is a lot of psychological and emotional issues tied to this condition and people with PTSD and GAD can also present with IBS.
Here at Piece of Minds we use several techniques to reduce symptoms and help you to take back control. Hypnotherapy is a major part of our strategy and it has been shown to be successful with a large study in Manchester. Listening to recordings after each session is an integral part of the treatment and you will also find an added benefit of feeling so much calmer and less anxious. As part of our plan, we use a very special tool called Mini Medic as this gives clients peace of mind and is proven to reduce anxiety and in doing so, reduces symptoms.