Bowel Syndrome 101

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by COOKIEMONSTER, Jul 20, 2003.



    Bowel Syndrome 101

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is classified as a functional gastrointestinal disorder. This is because upon diagnostic testing, the colon shows no evidence of disease such as ulcers or inflammation. Therefore, IBS is diagnosed only after all other possible digestive disorders and diseases have been ruled out.

    IBS is often misdiagnosed or misnamed as colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, irritable bowel disease or spastic bowel (colon). These misnomers persist, even though IBS is now a recognized and treatable condition. Affecting between 25 and 55 million people in the United States, IBS results in 2.5 to 3.5 million yearly visits to physicians. 20 to 40 percent of all visits to gastroenterologists are due to symptoms of IBS.

    Muscles in the bowel normally contract a few times a day, moving feces along and ultimately resulting in a bowel movement. It is believed that in a person with IBS, these muscles are exceptionally sensitive to stimuli, or triggers. While they would not normally affect others, triggers such as food or stress can provoke a strong response in a person with IBS. A person who does not have IBS may have no trouble eating a salad, or drinking coffee, but a person with IBS may exhibit symptoms such as pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

    The symptoms of IBS can include:

    Mucous in the stool.

    Cramps are often relieved by a bowel movement, but some people with IBS may have cramps and be unable to pass anything. Severity of symptoms can vary widely and be described as anything from a mild annoyance to debilitating. Blood in the stool, fever, weight loss, vomiting bile, and persistent pain are not symptoms of IBS and may be the result of some other problem.

    IBS is the second only to the common cold as being the most frequent cause of absenteeism from work and school.

    Many people with IBS describe that symptoms frequently occur shortly after, or even during, meals. Fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and gas-producing foods (such as broccoli or beans) have regularly been named culprits in causing IBS attacks. It can be difficult to track down which particular foods can act as triggers for IBS.

    Further complicating the issue, not every person with IBS responds with symptoms to the same foods. The range of triggers is unique to each individual, although there are may common elements among most people with IBS. Symptoms can also be intermittent. Something that was fine to eat last week may be causing symptoms today.

    Treatment for IBS can include changes to diet, lifestyle, stress reduction, and medications. Often, a combination of two or more of the above will help to provide the most relief. There is still much that is understood about IBS, so it may take some time, and some experimentation with different therapies to achieve good results.


    Keeping a food and symptom diary is a good way to trace foods that lead to IBS attacks. Starting with a bland diet of "safe foods" and gradually adding a new food each day can also help in the search for specific food triggers. The food diary can then be discussed with a doctor or dietician for help in treatment.

    Common trigger foods include:

    Artificial sweeteners
    Artificial fat (Olestra)
    Carbonated beverages
    Coconut milk
    Coffee (even decaffeinated)
    Egg yolks
    Fried Foods
    Poultry skin and dark meat
    Red meat
    Solid Chocolate
    Lifestyle Changes

    Smaller portions at mealtimes may help to prevent bloating and cramping. Instead of three large meals every day, five smaller meals may also help. Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and daily exercise are also helpful in reducing IBS symptoms. These changes can also contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle.

    Stress Reduction

    Relaxation training, in addition to medical therapy, can also help to reduce symptoms.

    It is important to note that stress is not the cause of IBS, but as with any disease or disorder, stress can cause the symptoms of IBS to worsen. IBS is not believed to lead to ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, cancer, or other serious diseases.


    For constipation, a doctor may prescribe laxatives or fiber supplements such as Metamucil. Fiber supplements help with both constipation and diarrhea. They bulk up the stool in cases of diarrhea, and also make it easier to pass in the case of constipation. Laxatives can be habit-forming, and should be used under the close supervision of a physician.

    Anti-spasmodic drugs or tranquilizers may be prescribed to stop the over sensitivity of the muscles in the bowel. Stopping the spasms in the bowel can reduce pain and the feeling of urgency. Anti-diarrhea medications may also be used to slow down frequent, watery stools.

    The Future

    The good news about IBS is that it is increasingly being seen under a new light. People with this common disorder can discuss symptoms with health care professionals without being told "it's all in your head". IBS even has two new spokespersons - Kelsey and Camille Grammer who are working to raise awareness.

    In the last 20 years, much research has been done to discover more about IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders. Treatment for IBS is better now than it ever has been in the past, but more research and awareness is needed to raise the quality of life for those who suffer with IBS.

  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    When I started the Doxycycline treatment, along with migraine-type headaches, low-grade temperatures, chronic sore throat and swollen glands. I never expected this result and have no idea how the muscle spasms in the gut could have been affected by bacteria other than I know that bacteria love to inhabit the gut because they like to live in areas rich with mucus.

    Jelly, are you out there? Do you have any opinion on this?

    Love, Mikie
  3. pearls

    pearls New Member

    For me, stress or lack of it had made all the difference.

  4. tansy

    tansy New Member

    with stronger probiotics, colostrum, and further dietary changes. My son's ibs stays away providing he sicks to the same protocol. I've also had to treat my candida again. Some board users have found OLE also helps their ibs.

    Mine only gets worse now if I react to a food or go down with an infection. Stress doesn't have a significant effect.


    [This Message was Edited on 07/22/2003]
  5. lucky

    lucky New Member

    It is interesting that you mention diverticulitis on Mikie's message. I was also sure I had IBS, but was diagnosed having diverticulitis and was treated with antibiotics. However, after having a scan and X-Ray, the specialist told me that I have diverticulosis. I am still slightly confused about the whole thing. However I understand that diverticulitis is when the sacs in the colon are infected, but what is the difference having diverticulosis? Is this also causing IBS?
    Since I am taking OLE and colostrum it seems to help with the discomfort.
    Thank you for your reply, Lucky
    [This Message was Edited on 07/25/2003]
    [This Message was Edited on 07/25/2003]
  6. aching

    aching New Member

    When I had my colonoscopy they told me they found inflammation and increased vascularity, but no crohns or colitis.In Bowel syndrome 101 above it states there is no inflammation. I assumed I had IBS. Now I don't know what to think. When I take my NSAIDS my bowel improves and that is what my G.P perscribed for it. Now I'm confused? Does anyone know what this means?

  7. dolsgirl

    dolsgirl New Member

    Great posts. I have severe IBS. I went two years without it doing anything, then the day after Thanksgiving 2002, it's been a constant in my life. I take Donnatol for it, 1-3 times a day, sometimes up to 5 times a day if I'm on a plane. I'm sure you understand.

    The Lomotil & Bentyl stopped working for me years ago. I was taking both of them several times everyday without relief...Donnatol does have phenobarbital in it as does Fiorinal which I used to take for migraines, so I don't know if that is why my headaches aren't as severe as they used to be. I did go about 2 years without it, as for some reason, I wasn't having it.

    Some foods consistently will trigger, others, I can't pinpoint, sometimes yes & sometimes no. I haven't tried Levbid, but wouldn't mind if it works better than Donnatol. The Donnatol I put under my tongue to dissolve & get into my system quicker for faster relief.

    Great posts guys, in fact, had to make a pitstop while reading them...if you know what I mean...LOL dolsgirl
  8. dolsgirl

    dolsgirl New Member

    I'm going to have to give that Levsin a try. I have to use way too much Donnatol still. I haven't lost weight because of it though & I've certainly gone through times where I certainly should have. I think that all has to do with my thyroid, which will never be under control. The tests don't show what's really happening when you have FMS and I'm on a very low dose which keeps me just within range. So, they don't change it. I wonder if a rheumy would take control of that dosing??? dolsgirl
  9. lucky

    lucky New Member

    for your reply and information. I do not have the diverticulitis now it appears, and it cleared up with the antibiotics which were prescribed some time ago. I am not too careful with my diet and also eat nuts periodically and flax seeds every day which rather seem to help and lower the discomfort. But I wonder if there is a flare-up of the pain which happens sometimes if there is any med I can ask the doctor for which would help.
    Thank you again, sincerely, Lucky
  10. aching

    aching New Member

    ...for your explanation. Sounds feasible to me also. The only thing is my Dr. won't tell me. I know they suspect scleroderma but they do not want to commit until they are sure(if you know what I mean).I just wondered if my bowel problems would go along with this diagnosis.Thanks again.
  11. lucky

    lucky New Member

    and thank you again for taking the time to reply to my message. It really was very helpful to find out that there are meds which can help to ease the pain of diverticolosis. When I saw my doctor 2 weeks ago and mentioned that the specialist diagnosed me with diverticolosis, he did not respond with any suggestions how to treat it, and the specialist did not either because at the time of the x-ray I did not show having diverticulitis, and when I asked him what I can do about it (the diverticolosis) he said.....nothing. This surprised me and that's why I was interested to know if I have options in case of pain or bloating.
    Take care, and your suggestions were very much appreciated. Lucky
    [This Message was Edited on 07/27/2003]