Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Cycle of Stress
Irritable Bowel Syndrome ( IBS) is often called a 'functional disorder’ of the bowel. This means a condition associated with a disturbance of bowel function without any change in structure or obvious cause.
Irritable bowel syndrome ( IBS), a frequently stress-related disorder is characterized by a chronic alteration in bowel habits, but often between attacks, the bowel rhythm is normal. Recurring attacks of abdominal pain which may be dull, aching or cramp-like, a pattern of alternating diarrhoea and constipation and bloating and swelling of the abdomen are the most common symptoms. Other symptoms may be rumbling noises and excessive passage of wind, urgency (a need to rush to the lavatory), a sharp pain low down in the rectum and a sensation of incomplete bowel movement. Sometimes the stools are passed with large amounts of mucus. There are other symptoms ( I have a list that I give to my clients) and it is, therefore, important to seek medical advice. Please note, IBS must always be diagnosed by a medical professional first, because some of the symptoms of other bowel diseases can resemble those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Self diagnosis is not to be recommended.
What causes IBS?
There is no convincing evidence for suggestions of things like yeast infection, fluoride toxicity and mercury poisoning.
In recent years research has concentrated on factors that might make the gut more sensitive, including food allergy, inflammation and stress. There is a strong association between emotional upset and IBS.
A bout of IBS is frequently precipitated by stress, with triggers associated with emotional tension, life changes and difficult life situations and stress. However, regardless of cause, its roots are physiological with bowel spasm, contractions and sensitivity, and the symptoms are real. It is distressing, painful and can interfere with your life. In extreme cases I have had clients who have stopped socializing and have had their lives made really difficult because of IBS.
Treatment of IBS
- Antispasmodics - Colofac, Spasmonal
- Peppermint oil – Colpermin, Mintec –spasm and soothing
- Anti-cholinergic – have both an antispasmodic on the intestine and a calming action on the nerve pathways. – Buscopan, Merbentil which are used to control abdominal pain.
- Anti-diarrhoeal - Imodium, Codeine phosphate, Lomotil
- Lipid-lowering Questran – for diarrhoea – the action on bile acids makes movements bulkier.
- Bulk laxatives – for constipation – Fybogel to make the bowel contents more bulky and stimulate peristalsis. Lactulose a laxative to soften and lubricate the stool.
- Stimulant laxatives – Dulco- Lax, Senokot
- Osmotic laxatives – Movicol
- Anti-depressants – that aim to relieve underlying emotional tension – see ‘Human Givens therapy for a better way to deal with this. Some work directly on the gut to relieve spasm. Others eg Amitryptyline tend to be constipating. Prozac which tends to cause looseness.
A change in diet may help. It is wise to consult a dietician to avoid running the risk of nutritional deficiency.
Food Allergy and intolerance
To diagnose allergies and intolerances tests have to be performed. People with IBS are often found to be intolerant to a whole range of common foods. This suggests that it is not so much the food that is causing the problem but a sensitive gut that is overreacting to its contents.
Allergies and intolerances can be disguising emotional upset and so IBS often needs to be combined with therapy.
Unfortunately - many people with IBS find diet and drugs disappointing. Most clinicians will admit that there is not much they can do to help when these are exhausted.
Fortunately – Hypnosis has often been found to be of great help.
My Experiences of treating IBS.
I have had considerable experience treating people with IBS with very good results. Here are just two examples of how people have been helped:
- I had one client who could not go into town shopping without returning to his house six, seven, eight or more times. Neither could he follow his football team. I am pleased to say that after treatment he could perform both of these activities and much more.
- Another client was an executive in a large organisation whose life was made a misery because of the anxiety of worrying about having to rush out in the middle of business meetings. The worry affected other aspects of her life. Travelling became difficult, being with other people before meetings was difficult and having to eat at functions also became an issue. Following treatment she stopped worrying about eating in public and stopped worrying about travelling. Everything became much easier and the quality of her life improved.
These two clients demonstrate typical problems of people with IBS. Many do not want to eat in front of people or in business lunches. Travelling presents great difficulties for lots of sufferers – whether in the car or on public transport. Having to return home numerous times is not uncommon. These constrictions on one’s life only adds to the anxiety because it gets increasingly difficult to lead a normal life.
It is a miserable condition, but can be helped with hypnosis.