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How IBS Can Affect your Quality of Life and How to Prevent it

How IBS Can Affect your Quality of Life and How to Prevent it

Irritable bowel syndrome, while not life-threatening, can be a real hindrance to your daily routine and sense of wellbeing.

Here we look at its effects and how to manage the associated symptoms.

Overview

Irritable Bowel Syndrome otherwise known as “IBS“, can be a real deterrent for a life comfortably lived. The syndrome itself is a functional disorder affecting both adults and children alike.

It can cause very uncomfortable symptoms and can truly affect one’s livelihood to the point of real anguish.

The use of ‘functional’ to describe this disorder refers to the fact that there is not something wrong with the physical tissue of the digestive system.

Instead, irritable bowel syndrome systems are the result of changes in the functioning of the digestive system.

While irritable bowel syndrome is not life-threatening, it can disrupt many of a sufferer’s day-to-day activities to the point where lives need to be adapted around the syndrome.

Looking at this positively, it does not increase one’s chances of developing colon conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

The disruption to daily life still persists and certainly warrants lifestyle changes and medical intervention to live a more comfortable, symptom-free life.

Speaking of symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome presents with a number of symptoms associated with the gastrointestinal system such as abdominal pain, cramping, food intolerance, bloating, and increased gas.

In short, irritable bowel syndrome upsets normal bowel habits and results in general stomach discomfort.

None of the above warrant hospital admission, unless it’s very serious, but it does cause a significant negative impact on one’s life from your work schedule to your ability to attend social events with friends and family.

In this article, we will start our look into IBS by exploring the causes of the syndrome followed by delving into the symptoms shown by those suffering from it.

Lastly but probably most importantly, we will look into methods we can use to prevent the onset of irritable bowel syndrome and prevent all the associated negative effects thereof.

ibs affect of life - How IBS Can Affect your Quality of Life and How to Prevent it

 

Why Does Irritable Bowel Syndrome Occur?

Gut bacteria.

Those two words carry the weight of the entire explanation of irritable bowel syndrome and the gastrointestinal tract as a whole in terms of its health and optimum functioning.

Several factors trigger IBS but the chief culprit is an underlying change in the gut bacteria environment.

A number of other factors including the alteration of the gastrointestinal tract motility, and abnormal nervous system signals all contribute to the possible onset of IBS symptoms.

It’s important to limit factors that may result in these alterations and changes in gut bacteria. If limiting is not possible then it is important to at least understand what is going on to help better manage the symptoms.

That said, let us take a look into a broad range of factors that may predispose one to IBS and the related symptoms.

  1. Stress

Psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression have been found in many people with IBS. Whether the two are a result of causation or a simple correlation is unknown with IBS.

In other words, psychological conditions may not be a direct cause of IBS, but research may find that it increases the probability that you will develop IBS.

  1. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is the term used when one has too much bacteria in one’s intestine. While it is great to have a large gut bacteria environment, things start to become unhealthy when the gut reaches a state of being considered ‘overgrown’.

This indicates a shift in the balance of your small intestine’s environment. SIBO has its own list of risk factors ranging from diabetes to having a small intestine with an unusual shape.

In essence, SIBO usually starts when your small intestine doesn’t move food along the way it should. This can cause bacteria to grow and stay in an area too long. An imbalance can then occur if the “good” bacteria is hindered by the proliferation of harmful bacteria.

  1. Food sensitivities

This is most likely caused due to poor absorption of sugars or acids in food. The result is irritation of the bowels and typically leads to IBS symptoms.

 irritible bowel syndrome - How IBS Can Affect your Quality of Life and How to Prevent it

How Irritable Bowel Syndrome Affects Your Life

Generally speaking, IBS involves changes in the frequency and physical form of bowel movements. It is normally associated with lower abdominal pain as well.

Pain and cramping happen to be the most common symptom and a key factor in diagnosing the presence of IBS. The cause of this, explored later in this article, is related to changes in a patient’s microbiome.

Diarrhoea affects about one-third of those suffering from IBS making it another common sign of IBS. This in contrast to a less intuitive sign of IBS, namely constipation. In fact, constipation affects nearly half of people with IBS.

The root cause lies in altered communication between the brain and the bowel causing a change in bowel movement speed.

Diarrhoea and constipation can severely disrupt your plans and normal schedule. Routine trips to the shops or meetings may become stressful arrangements due to the often sudden arrival of IBS symptoms.

One of the most annoying reported symptoms of IBS is bloating. Most people with IBS report this making it an expected symptom when dealing with irritable bowel syndrome.

The above signs and symptoms are quite consistent across patients with high probabilities of occurring in patients with IBS. The next couple of symptoms vary more wildly among patients.

Fatigue has been attributed to IBS with adults finding themselves low on energy at work and in social interactions which can have a negative impact not only for you but also for those around you.

Patients with IBS have also found that their sleep suffers – difficulty falling asleep, waking frequently, and feeling unrested in the morning have all been reported. In general, patients have found their energy levels and restful states much lower with the onset of irritable bowel syndrome.

This could result in lower productivity, less satisfying relationships and reduced work output.

managing irritable bowel syndrome - How IBS Can Affect your Quality of Life and How to Prevent it

 

Preventing and Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Treating IBS is a matter of installing lifestyle and dietary changes that are recommended by a doctor.

This means that a holistic approach is required to deal with the many facets of one’s biology and lifestyle that may be causing the patient’s IBS.

In general, lifestyle changes and recommendations about what you should eat may be combined with medicines, probiotics and mental health therapy, depending on the patient’s particular risk profile.

Patients need to heed the medical advice of their doctors when it comes to their specific situation. That said, here are a number of treatments that your doctor may recommend or extra treatments you could add to your treatment plan.

First, let’ look at several things you should certainly not do. Avoid doing this to help relieve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms:

  1. Delay or skip meals
  2. Eat meals too quickly
  3. Eat lots of processed or fatty food
  4. Eat more than three portions of fruit a day
  5. Drink more than three cups of coffee a day
  6. Drink lots of alcohol or fizzy drinks

In short, you want to try and avoid ingesting food and drink or engaging in behaviour that will place unnecessary stress on the gastrointestinal tract.

Now let’s take a look at some positive behaviours one can get into to lower the risk of irritable bowel syndrome onset.

  1. Exercise

A solution seemingly as old as modern medical advice itself, the benefits of exercise apply to IBS therapy as well.

Not only has it been shown to improve IBS symptoms, but it also has a well-known effect on anxiety and depression which are IBS risk factors.

Exercise has the potential to alleviate symptoms and lower the reoccurrence of IBS down the line.

  1. Set a Sleep Schedule

Our bodily functions are controlled by our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms. Gut functioning also follows this cycle.

As a result, if one’s sleep is disrupted, the gut may be suffering. It’s recommended to stick to a sleep schedule to help control fluctuations in gut irregularity.

If one is travelling across time zones, it may be worth taking some melatonin which can help regulate the circadian rhythm.

Consistency is key here. The upsides can be significant, not just for gut health but for one’s overall health as well.

 ibs and probiotics - How IBS Can Affect your Quality of Life and How to Prevent it

  1. Medication

Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to alleviate IBS symptoms and combat their reoccurrence.

An antihistamine may be given as this can help lower the histamine released in your gut due to an allergic reaction. This can lead to reduced inflammation and a resultant decrease in IBS symptoms.

Antidepressants in low doses have been shown to alleviate symptoms. Depending on the type of symptoms a patient is experiencing, different antidepressants may be prescribed.

Some help to inhibit the activity of nerves in the gut which helps to lower pain. In other cases, an antidepressant can be prescribed to speed up the gastrointestinal tract.

As mentioned earlier, IBS could be the result of an overgrowth of bacteria. In such cases, an antibiotic such as Rifaximin may be given by your doctor to inhibit the bacteria’s growth.

  1. Diet and lifestyle

There are several lifestyle changes that can help alleviate IBS symptoms. Another two worth mentioning here are probiotics and yoga.

Probiotics help to balance your gut microbiome. They’re referred to as the “good bacteria” and can be found in many food sources such as dairy products and fruit like bananas.

Including this in your diet can be a good idea to get your gut microbiome to a sustainably healthy position.

Yoga has been suggested to alleviate the symptoms of IBS. One way it may achieve this is by increasing serotonin levels thereby decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety.

 How IB can affect the quality of life 1 - How IBS Can Affect your Quality of Life and How to Prevent it

 

Summary

Irritable bowel syndrome, while not life-threatening, can be a major bump in the quest to living a comfortable, problem-free life.

Unfortunately, the symptoms associated with this mild disease can make that quest difficult.

Fortunately, lifestyle changes and careful dietary modifications can restrict the severity of IBS symptoms allowing patients with IBS to live a relatively healthy life.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of GI tract conditions in Johannesburg, contact Dr. Schneider or visit www.gidocjhb.co.za and book your consultation today.

 

    DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

    The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

    IBS – Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

    IBS – Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or “IBS”, is a gastrointestinal disorder that is typically associated with a number of symptoms being present that include abdominal pain, cramping, increased gas, food intolerance, and bloating.

    In other words, it’s a combination of stomach discomfort and abnormal bowel habits.

    While it is very uncomfortable and does affect one’s livelihood, it is far from being life-threatening and does not indicate a higher likelihood of developing colon conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

    But it can be a long-lasting hindrance that can disrupt the way sufferers of IBS live their lives.

    Found in both adults and children, IBS can be referred to as a functional disorder.

    So, instead of something being wrong with the physical tissue of the digestive system, IBS symptoms are the result of changes in the functioning of the digestive system.

    While you probably won’t be admitted to hospital for having IBS, the sheer quality-of-life impact it can have means it deserves a closer look.

    We’ll start by explaining the causes of IBS before jumping into the signs and symptoms experienced by IBS patients.

    Finally, we’ll offer some insight into currently prescribed treatment methods.

    ibs symptoms - IBS - Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

    Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    There are several factors that can trigger the onset of IBS symptoms with the underlying cause being that of a change in gut bacteria.

    A number of other factors including the alteration of the gastrointestinal tract motility, and abnormal nervous system signals all contribute to the possible onset of IBS symptoms.

    Naturally, there are different ‘triggers’ for different people.

    This slightly complicates the issue of highlighting a particular cause or solution and heralding it as the final answer to understand and treat or cure IBS.

    For now, we have to look at a broad range of risk factors that may predispose one to IBS and it’s related symptoms.

    1. SIBO

    First on the list is SIBO which stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.

    Essentially, this refers to when you have too much bacteria in your small intestine.

    This indicates a shift in the balance of your small intestine’s environment.

    SIBO has its own list of risk factors ranging from diabetes to having a small intestine with an unusual shape.

    In essence, SIBO usually starts when your small intestine doesn’t move food along the way it should. This can cause bacteria to grow and stay in an area too long.

    An imbalance can then occur if the “good” bacteria is hindered by the proliferation of harmful bacteria.

    2. Food Sensitivities

    This is most likely caused due to poor absorption of sugars or acids in food. The result is irritation of the bowels and typically leads to IBS symptoms.

    3. Stress

    Psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression have been found in many people with IBS. Whether the two are a result of causation or a simple correlation is unknown with IBS.

    In other words, psychological conditions may not be a direct cause of IBS but research may find that it increases the probability that you will develop IBS.

    4. Other Causes

    There are several more factors that may lead to IBS symptom development.

    Gastroenteritis, also known as a “stomach bug” and caused by a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and intestines, can trigger IBS symptoms.

    Genetic factors, hypersensitivity to pain from a full bowel, and abnormal movements of the colon and small intestine all contribute to the likelihood of IBS symptoms developing.

     ibs abdominal pain - IBS - Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

    Signs and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Generally speaking, IBS involves changes in the frequency and physical form of bowel movements. It is normally associated with lower abdominal pain as well.

    Pain and cramping happen to be the most common symptoms and a key factor in diagnosing the presence of IBS.

    The cause of this, as mentioned earlier, is related to changes in a patient’s microbiome.

    Diarrhoea affects about one-third of those suffering from IBS making it another common sign of IBS. This in contrast to a less intuitive sign of IBS, namely constipation.

    In fact, constipation affects nearly half of people with IBS. The root cause lies in altered communication between the brain and the bowel causing a change in bowel movement speed.

    One of the most annoying reported symptoms of IBS is bloating. Most people with IBS report this making it an expected symptom when dealing with irritable bowel syndrome.

    The above signs and symptoms are quite consistent across patients with high probabilities of occurring in patients with IBS. The next couple of symptoms vary more wildly among patients.

    Fatigue has been attributed to IBS with adults finding themselves low on energy at work and in social interactions.

    Patients with IBS have also found that their sleep suffers – difficulty falling asleep, waking frequently, and feeling unrested in the morning have all been reported.

    In general, patients have found their energy levels and restful states much lower with the onset of irritable bowel syndrome.

     

    Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Treating IBS is a matter of installing lifestyle and dietary changes that are recommended by a doctor.
    This means that a holistic approach is required to deal with the many facets of one’s biology and lifestyle that may be causing the patient’s IBS.

    In general, lifestyle changes and recommendations about what you should eat may be combined with medicines, probiotics and mental health therapy, depending on the patient’s particular risk profile.

    Patients need to heed the medical advice of their doctors when it comes to their specific situation.
    That said, here are a number of treatments that your doctor may recommend or extra treatments you could add to your treatment plan.

    1. Exercise

    A solution seemingly as old as modern medical advice itself, the benefits of exercise apply to IBS therapy as well.

    Not only has it been shown to improve IBS symptoms, but it also has a well-known effect on anxiety and depression which are IBS risk factors.

    Exercise has the potential to alleviate symptoms and lower the reoccurrence of IBS down the line.

    2. Set a Sleep Schedule

    Our bodily functions are controlled by our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms. Gut functioning also follows this cycle. As a result, if one’s sleep is disrupted, the gut may be suffering.

    It’s recommended to stick to a sleep schedule to help control fluctuations in gut irregularity.

    If one is travelling across time zones, it may be worth taking some melatonin which can help regulate the circadian rhythm.

    Consistency is key here. The upsides can be significant, not just for gut health but for one’s overall health as well.

    3. Medication

    Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to alleviate IBS symptoms and combat their reoccurrence.

    An antihistamine may be given as this can help lower the histamine released in your gut due to an allergic reaction.

    This can lead to reduced inflammation and a resultant decrease in IBS symptoms.

    Antidepressants in low doses have been shown to alleviate symptoms.

    Depending on the type of symptoms a patient is experiencing, different antidepressants may be prescribed.

    Some help to inhibit the activity of nerves in the gut which helps to lower pain.

    In other cases, an antidepressant can be prescribed to speed up the gastrointestinal tract.

    As mentioned earlier, IBS could be the result of an overgrowth of bacteria.

    In such cases, an antibiotic such as Rifaximin may be given by your doctor to inhibit the bacteria’s growth.

    ibs nutrition - IBS - Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

    4. Diet and Lifestyle

    Several lifestyle changes can help alleviate IBS symptoms. Another two worth mentioning here are probiotics and yoga.

    Probiotics help to balance your gut microbiome. They’re referred to as the “good bacteria” and can be found in many food sources such as dairy products and fruit like bananas.

    Including this in your diet can be a good idea to get your gut microbiome to a sustainably healthy position.

    Yoga has been suggested to alleviate the symptoms of IBS.

    One way it may achieve this is by increasing serotonin levels thereby decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety.

    Summary

    Irritable bowel syndrome does not have to be a debilitating problem for which there is no solution.

    There are, however, nasty symptoms such as cramping, abdominal pain, and bloating which can make certain aspects of life unpleasant.

    Through following the advice of a doctor, there are a number of effective therapeutic methods with the most notable being overall lifestyle changes accompanied by targeted medication.

    Irritable bowel syndrome can affect one’s life ranging from a reduced amount of sleep to abdominal pain and less energy to do what you love.

    The symptoms of cramping, abdominal pain, and bloating are responsible for this, in some cases quite severe, hindrance on normal human functioning.

    There are however lifestyle and dietary changes which can be implemented, along with the medicinal prescriptions from a doctor, that can alleviate most, if not all, of the suffering experienced by those with irritable bowel syndrome.

    For more information on the treatment of IBS in Johannesburg, contact Dr. Schneider or visit www.gidocjhb.co.za and book your consultation today.

     

    Colon Cancer Risk Factors Prevention infographic 120x300 - IBS - Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

    DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

    The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

    Nutritional Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Nutritional Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    GIDOCJHB offers patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) a fresh approach to managing their condition.

    In addition to providing effective treatments that are rooted in research, we pay attention to and address each patient’s unique history and concerns, and provide highly specialised and advanced care in the diagnosis, support, and treatment of patients living with inflammatory bowel syndrome, or IBD

    Dr. Schneider understands that IBS can affect your quality of life and no two people experience symptoms in the same way.
    We partner with you to optimise your treatment and help you manage symptoms long-term.

    Whether you want to explore complementary and alternative therapies such as nutritional supplements or dietary changes, we’ll help you meet your personal goals while making sure you’re receiving the best, evidence-based medical care available.

     

    What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms such as cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

    It’s a common long-term disorder that affects the large intestine.

    Only a small percentage of people with IBS have strong signs and symptoms.

    Most people suffering from IBS can control their symptoms by managing lifestyle factors, such as diet and stress. More-severe symptoms can be treated with medication and therapy.

    IBS isn’t life-threatening and doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer or Crohn’s disease.

    Those suffering from IBS may miss activities and planned obligations, such as work or school more often, and they may feel less able, and even paranoid and stressed to take part in daily activities.

    Some people may need to change their work setting: shifting to working at home, changing hours, or finding a more flexible job that can accommodate them better.

     ibs foods nutrition - Nutritional Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Who Is at Risk for IBS?

    • Age – IBS can affect people of all ages, but it’s more likely for people in their teens through their 40s.
    • Family history – You’re at higher risk if you have a close relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child with the disease.
    • Cigarette smoking – Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn’s disease.
    • Medications – Studies have shown a link between IBS symptoms and antibiotics, antidepressants, and drugs made with sorbitol.
    • Food sensitivities – Some people may have digestive upsets when they eat dairy, wheat, sugar, fatty foods, or alcohol. Currently, there’s no evidence any of these foods cause IBS, but they can and may trigger symptoms at any time.

     nutritional therapy ibs foods - Nutritional Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    IBS Diet Suggestions

    If bloating, gas, and changes in your bathroom habits are causing you to feel uncomfortable both socially and physically, changing your food choices can be an effective route to relief. Here are some food suggestions that can provide you relief:

     

    1. Eggs

    Generally, eggs are easily digested and “light” on the stomach, well still being wholesome and nutritious for someone who has IBS.

    It doesn’t matter how you like your eggs, whether its hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled, or poached.

    Eggs are packed with amino acids, antioxidants, and iron. You don’t just have to eat the white of the egg too.

    When you’re out buying eggs, pay close attention to the labels. Its always recommended to buy organic, when possible.

     

    2. Salmon and Other Omega-3 Fish

    Omega-3 fatty acids play an anti-inflammatory role within the body. Increasing your intake of omega-3s may be of help. Good fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

    • Anchovies
    • Sardines
    • Wild-caught salmon
    • Whitefish

     

    3. Lean Meats

    Lean meats are comprised mainly of protein.

    Protein is easily digestible and is not fermentable by gut bacteria—which translates to no unwanted intestinal gas.

    Therefore you can eat any of the following with confidence:

    • White meat chicken
    • White meat turkey
    • Pork
    • Lean cuts of beef

     

    4. Oats

    Oats are a rich source of fiber, which feeds healthy bacteria in your gut.

    Some patients with IBS experience a smaller trigger response in IBS symptoms from eating oatmeal, while others may experience increased symptoms.

     

    5. Avocado

    The creamy, green fruit is also filled with fiber, making it a great dietary option for those suffering from IBS. Mixing it with a salad or eggs is a great way to start your morning well.

     

    6. Grapes

    Grapes are low in fructan and contain anthocyanin, a name used for certain purple, blue or red antioxidants that may fight IBS and aid in weight loss thanks to their ability to inhibit inflammatory chemicals.

     

    7. Tomatoes

    Adding tomatoes to your diet is an easy and delicious way to combat IBS, as it is very gut-friendly.

    ibs tips - Nutritional Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

     

    Quick Tips for Controlling IBS Symptoms

    • Try to eat your meals at about the same time each day.
    • Keep a journal of what you eat, how much and when, as well as your reactions (heartburn, diarrhea, cramping). You should be looking for patterns of what you can and can’t eat based on symptoms
    • Avoid eating so much in one sitting. Space out your meals in smaller portions
    • Don’t skip meals or wait too long between meals.
    • Avoid bad fatty foods, which can be harder to digest. Stick to lean.
    • Drink plenty of water throughout your day. Also, see if drinking water with your meals helps ease symptoms
    • Limit or avoid all types of caffeine, such as from coffee and tea.
    • Avoid alcohol and fizzy (carbonated) drinks as much as possible
    • When you do eat fruit, try fruits without the skins. Some people might have problems with melons, apples, and citrus fruits.
    • Prepare foods by grilling, broiling, baking, or steaming with little to no oil. Try using a cooking spray in place of oil.
    • Some people have problems with heavily spiced, sauced, or fried foods, but see if and how this effects you
    • For the foods that are potential IBS symptom triggers for you, try introducing them back into your diet by having a small portion and choosing only one trigger food at a time.
    • Reduce fructose. Fructose can cause diarrhoea in some people, particularly when eaten in large quantities.

    DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

    The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

    Crohn’s Disease IBD Treatment Johannesburg

    Crohn’s Disease IBD Treatment Johannesburg

    We are a specialized Gastroenterology practice in Johannesburg and work closely with each patient to develop ongoing, effective treatment plans that improve and maintain overall health and nutrition while minimizing side effects and relieving the discomfort and stress of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

    Understanding Crohn’s disease can help you and your loved ones navigate the uncertainty that comes with a new diagnosis. 

    What is IBD?

    IBD causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which begins at the mouth and extends through the stomach and intestines to the anus. IBD is a long-term condition with no cure, however, there are treatment options available.

    What Causes IBD?

    As of today, the exact cause of IBD is unknown, but IBD is the result of a defective or unhealthy immune system. A properly functioning immune system attacks foreign organisms, such as viruses and bacteria, to protect the body. In IBD, the immune system responds incorrectly to environmental triggers, which causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Unfortunately, someone with a family history of IBD is more likely to develop this disease.

    How Do You Know If You Have IBD?

    A person with IBD will generally go through periods in which the disease appears in cycles, followed by periods in which symptoms decrease or disappear and good health returns.

    Symptoms of IBD include:

    • Abdominal cramps and pain
    • Fever
    • Pain, cramps or swelling in the tummy 
    • Recurring or bloody diarrhea
    • Weight loss
    • Extreme tiredness

       

    Risk Factors for Developing Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    The biggest risk factors for developing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis include:

    Smoking

    IBD is more common among smokers, and smoking can also make symptoms worse in these patients.

    Ethnicity

    IBD is present in all populations. However, IBD is more common in whites of northern European descent and the Jewish population.

    Age

    IBD can happen at any age, but in most cases, it starts before the age of 35.

    Family History

    People who have a parent, sibling, or child with IBD are at a much higher risk for developing it themselves.

    Geographical Region

    People who live in Western countries like the United States and Europe have a higher IBD risk than those in other parts of the world. The reason could be lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, or pollution. 

    Gender

    In general, IBD affects both genders. However, Crohn’s disease is more common among women.

     

    Sidenote: If you are looking for more in-depth research information about IBD, we recommend reading the online journals found here 

     

    Schedule a Meeting With Dr Schneider 

     

    IBD Diagnosis

    To diagnose IBD, a doctor will typically start by taking a medical history and performing a physical exam. They may also order one or more of the following tests to aid their diagnosis:

    • Your first tests will likely include laboratory tests of your blood and stool.
    • Further testing could include X-rays of the upper and lower GI tract and either blood, stool endoscopy or colonoscopy test if needed. During this procedure, the doctor inserts a flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope into the rectum. The doctor can check the entire colon for polyps or cancer.

    How is IBD Treated?

    Although there is no cure for IBD, the goal of treatment is to help patients achieve remission, avoid relapses and have the best quality of life. Treatment for IBD involves a combination of self-care and medical treatment.

    Self-Care

    While Crohn’s disease may not be the result of bad reactions to specific foods, paying special attention to your diet may help reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients, and promote healing. It’s important to talk with your doctor about ways to modify your diet while making sure you get the nutrients you need. 

    Medical Treatment

    Medication treating Crohn’s disease is designed to suppress your immune system’s abnormal inflammatory response that is causing your symptoms. Suppressing inflammation not only offers relief from common symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and pain, it also allows your intestinal tissues to heal. Surgery becomes necessary when medications can no longer control symptoms.

    If you’re confused about all the medications and types of surgeries available, it is important to review the risks and benefits of all treatment options with your Gastroenterologist.

    Frequently Asked Questions about IBD :

    Is there a cure for IBD?

    There is currently no cure for IBD.

    How long will IBD last?

    IBD is a lifelong condition. A few patients find their disease becomes milder (“burned out”) after age 60, but many do not.

    Do I have to take medicine forever?

    Because there is no cure for IBD at the moment, most patients do need to take medications to ease their symptoms and reduce the number and severity of flare episodes.

    Are there some medicines that can get me out of a flare quickly?

    Yes. These are not necessarily used long term because of side effects though.

    Is there any additional information where I can learn more about Crohn's disease or IBD in general?

    We recommend going to the South African Medical Journal’s (SAMJ) website for more information.

    Why do I need to keep taking medicines when I feel well?

    Medications are needed to reduce the number and severity of flares.

    Why Might I need a Colonoscopy?

    A colonoscopy is used to make the initial diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. A colonoscopy can also assess the symptoms of IBD flares and the response to treatment. Lastly, a colonoscopy can also be used for early colon cancer screening.

    Will surgery cure my IBD?

    No, surgery does not cure the disease but can help reduce symptoms. For patients with Crohn’s disease, surgery can remove the parts of the intestine that are scarred or are not extremely inflamed. 

    Could any condition other than IBD be causing my symptoms?

    Yes. Patients with IBD can get IBD-like symptoms for other reasons. This is why you should visit a gastroenterologist if there is a change in your symptoms because it might not be a flare of IBD.

     

    DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

    The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

    GIDoc

    gidoc jhb logo - Crohn’s Disease IBD Treatment Johannesburg

    Patient-focused GI treatments and procedures in Parktown, Johannesburg

    Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM.

    Connect with Us

    © Dr. H Schneider, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Johannesburg

    Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

    Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome

    Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome

    IBS is a common functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. The condition is more common in females.

    The diagnosis rests largely on presenting symptoms, rather than special investigations including endoscopy. 

    The current diagnostic criteria are contained in the Rome 3 document:

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Diagnostic criteria:

    Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort** at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months associated with two or more of the following:

    • Improvement with defecation
    • Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool
    • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

    Criterion fulfilled for the last 3 months with symptom onset
    at least 6 months prior to diagnosis
    ** “Discomfort” means an uncomfortable sensation not described as pain.

    Patients aged 50 years or older suspected of having IBS should undergo colorectal cancer screening.

    The management of IBS patients requires a solid doctor-patient relationship.

    A detailed history is important, seeking clues that may uncover triggers for the patient’s symptoms.

    Triggers may include certain foods, anxiety and depression, and stressful life events.

    Patients need to understand their condition and be reassured that it does not lead to more serious illnesses such as cancer.

    DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

    The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

    GIDoc

    gidoc jhb logo - Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome

    Patient-focused GI treatments and procedures in Parktown, Johannesburg

    Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM.

    Connect with Us

    © Dr. H Schneider, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Johannesburg

    Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.