The different degrees of irritable bowel syndrome

Usually, different reasons can cause the flare-ups. Food allergies, hormonal imbalances or even pregnancy can be factors. Sometimes it is as simple as managing stress to keep symptoms at bay.

by Dr. Jennifer Burns — 

I  tend to view irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as having different degrees, ranging from simple to complex.

Simple: This type of IBS is associated with some gas and bloating, with episodic diarrhea or constipation. Occasional flare-ups occur, but usually over-the-counter medications can take care of those situations.

Middle: This condition is marked by flare-ups occurring more often, and the body takes longer to recover — from a few hours to a couple of days. This degree of IBS needs more intervention treatment — adding in other supplements to help with flare-ups, in combination with the over-the-counter medications.

Moderate to less severe: This is the type of IBS in which flare-ups occur more than once a week. The mucus in the stool is a mixture of colors from brown to red. It involves more severe gas and bloating, with over-the-counter medications needed more frequently. Work and other activities are missed because the sufferer has to stay home or make sure that a bathroom is close by. Some days he wants to eat, and some days he does not.

This type requires more intervention and seeing a doctor. Sometimes prescription medications can help with these symptoms, but they often make them worse. Symptoms can be nausea, vomiting and dehydration, along with chills or even a built-up resistance to some of the over-the-counter medications.

Really severe: This is the worst type of IBS where some people end up in the hospital because the flare-ups are so bad that they last for weeks. Symptoms include vomiting all the time, dehydration and not being able to eat. Only a few medications or herbal remedies can help.

Usually, different reasons can cause the flare-ups. Food allergies, hormonal imbalances or even pregnancy can be factors. Sometimes it is as simple as managing stress to keep symptoms at bay.

In my office, I see patients with all types of IBS. However, I also have IBS, so I know what it is like to have those really bad days. In spite of this, I can and do live a full life.

 

Dr. Jennifer Burns is a naturopathic medical doctor and founder of The Bienetre Center in Phoenix. Her practice ranges from family care to anti-aging. She is a member of the Arbinger Professional Network. 623-223-1346 or www.thebienetrecenter.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 1, February/March 2013.

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