Everyone deals with stress differently. Some people chew their fingernails. Others over eat, or get headaches. Some even perform better when added stress is present. And then there are the Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers. Also known as IBS, it can present a person with both diarrhea and constipation, often within days of each other. Frequent flatulence and a bloated stomach are also common symptoms relating to one of the many causes of bloating. Pain, cramping, and fluctuation in stool consistency can all point to IBS. Although the brain is thought to be responsible for the stress/pain connection with our bowels, people with IBS have more sensitive bowels and the problem is magnified because of this.
Because there are no definite tests to tell if you have IBS, you may need to have a physician rule out other medical problems such as cancers and other diseases. If you are finding blood in your stools or have a fever while experiencing the above symptoms, this is likely a problem other than IBS and should be brought to the attention of a doctor, preferably a Gastroenterologist. Many doctors may not take your bloating problems or other digestive issues very seriously if a testable disease is not present. As one of the many causes of bloating you may be given a prescription for bloating relief, constipation, or whatever your main complaint is. It is unfortunate that this happens but in some ways, a doctor cannot be completely to blame here. It is simply difficult to truly know if you have IBS. Many more serious digestive problems have certain similarities, so although it can be expensive it is important to rule out cancers, infections, or even parasites before accepting an IBS diagnosis. Did I mention to see a specialist about this yet? Please do!
So how is IBS one of the causes of bloating, diarrhea, and constipation? Well, without getting too complicated, the colon goes to the beat of a different drummer. After the stomach does it’s job of breaking down and mixing up the food, and our small intestines does the job of absorbing nutrients, a normal colon will match the same pace and contract to let in the remaining materials. Here it will absorb some of the liquid and then move everything else down south for a nice and soft, well formed bowel movement. But an IBS colon has other things in mind. It wants to contract too much or too little. When the colon contracts too often, not enough liquid is absorbed resulting in diarrhea. This can also create gaps or empty spaces in the entire system which can lead to bloating problems. If it doesn’t contract as often as it should, then too much liquid is taken out and constipation can occur.
On the issues of how to get rid of bloating if you have IBS, the solutions can actually be similar to many digestive related issues. As I have said, IBS sufferers usually have bouts of diarrhea which will deplete the healthy flora in your gut so probiotic foods and supplements are needed to re-arm your body with health bacterias. Raw fermented kraut and a drink called kefir are an excellent source of probiotics. If you are in a period of diarrhea reduce your fruit and raw vegetables (especially juices). Lean meats, eggs, and fish as well as foods high in soluable fiber can aid in calming your colon. It is something you will have to experiment with. Fatty foods, fried foods, and most dairy products are known to trigger IBS not to mention heart disease and having to buy larger pants every so often!
Perhaps the one of the biggest causes of bloating related to IBS is stress. Because the colon already has sensitivity issues, more stress just compounds the problems. If you have emotional problems going on that you have not dealt with, seek a counselor and get help. Sometimes you really do need the guidance of a professional to get over things in life. You are not doing yourself any favors (your gut isn’t too happy either) by trying to figure everything out for yourself. For temporary issues of stress, exercise, yoga, meditation and other calming activities are wonderful for lowering your stress levels which in turn will have a positive effect on your bloating problems and IBS.