If you’ve ever experienced bloating, indigestion, cramping, unbearable (and often smelly) gas, and a change in your bathroom habits… you’re not alone. Approximately 10-15% of the world’s population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). What is IBS exactly? It’s a disorder characterized by the exact symptoms mentioned above, and they can be chronic or sporadic. The disorder can affect both sexes at any age, but about 65% of IBS sufferers are female under 50.
Although there is no known cause of IBS, it is believed that stress, dietary allergies/intolerances, and elevated hormone levels like in pregnancy or menstruation can trigger symptoms.
Is it serious? The symptoms can vary from mild to completely debilitating, but no matter the severity of your symptoms, there is no permanent damage done to your intestinal lining. In other words, IBS is not a disease, but a cluster of symptoms; it does not cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract or increase your risk of colon cancer.
Irritable bowel disease (IBD) consists in the chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, and includes both Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Both IBS and IBD’s symptoms can closely resemble each other, so how can you differentiate the two?
5 signs your symptoms might be more than IBS:
#1 – You see blood in your (loose) stool
Some people suffer from pesky hemorrhoids that can cause mild rectal bleeding. This blood is bright red and mostly seen on toilet paper after wiping. Hemorrhoids aside, if blood is seen after a bowel movement, a checkup with the doctor is highly recommended. Undetermined causes of rectal bleeding should be promptly investigated.
#2 – You’re constantly fatigued
The destructive inflammation experienced in IBD can cause serious fatigue. Some have described this as ‘brain fog’ or constantly feeling ‘wiped out’. Fatigue can also be the result of anemia caused by bleeding in the intestinal tract. Consult your family doctor if you feel this kind of heavy fatigue.
#3 – The diarrhea is heavy and doesn’t stop
Constipation and diarrhea are common for both IBS and IBD, but in IBS, they are short-lived. If you have to rush to the bathroom 10 times a day, and you feel it’s only getting worse by the day, you might be suffering from something more serious than IBS.
#4 – You’re losing weight without really trying
IBD can often impair the proper absorption and digestion of nutrients, which has the potential to cause malnourishment and unintentional weight loss. Constant diarrhea can also cause dehydration and interfere with nutrient absorption.
#5 – You have fever and abdominal pain
IBS-related abdominal pain usually subsides after having a bowel movement, and with IBS, there is no fever. If you suffer from unrelenting cramping and realize you have an elevated temperature, a trip to your doctor immediately is highly recommended.
To your natural health,