Irritable bowel syndrome, characterized by abdominal cramps, bloating and changes in bowel function, IBS is a very uncomfortable condition, which can interfere with all aspects of life.
Fibromyalgia is often associated with IBS, and anywhere between 30% and 70% of fibromyalgia sufferers will have to fight against this disease. In fact, more and more research indicates that the causes of fibromyalgia and IBS are similar, and perhaps even identical. If you have symptoms of IBS with fibromyalgia syndrome, read on to find out more about this disease. Is there a connection between SII and Fibro?
What is irritable bowel syndrome?
IBS is a condition that affects the large intestine, commonly called the intestine. It is characterized by an extreme sensitivity to muscular contractions in the large intestine, which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation.
Like fibromyalgia, IBS is classified as a functional disorder because there is no clear structural or chemical cause for the disease.
It is believed that IBS affects 70% of people with fibromyalgia. It tends to affect women more than men, although a large number of men, women and children are affected by the syndrome.
In general, women are three times more likely to develop IBS. People with fibromyalgia and IBS tend to suffer more severe symptoms than those with only one of the syndromes. If you have symptoms of IBS and fibromyalgia, it is important that you find a treatment that can treat both syndromes.
Start of irritable bowel syndrome
Like fibromyalgia, IBS tends to occur after a particularly traumatic or stressful life event. IBS can start after an illness, a move or start a new job. Like fibromyalgia, stress is one of the biggest causes or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Stress exacerbates contractions, diarrhea, constipation and flatulence. Other triggers include specific foods, especially chocolate, dairy products and alcohol, certain odors, and certain medications.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
IBS is not a very pleasant disease to have. Depending on its severity, IBS can really impact your daily life, making it impossible to attend social functions, go to work or school, or even travel short distances from your home. If you have IBS, you will probably experience these three symptoms:
- Abdominal pain relieved by bowel movements.
- Change in the frequency of bowel movements.
- Change in the appearance of bowel movements.
IBS is a chronic disease that tends to get worse over time or is aggravated by certain foods or medications. If you suffer from IBS, you should also keep a record of the foods you have been eating, as well as your symptoms.
If you have IBS, you may suffer some or all of the following symptoms:
Severe to severe abdominal cramps
Swelling after eating
Lack of appetite
Very loose or watery stools
Very hard stools, like pebbles
Deposits covered with fibrous mucosa
More than 3 bowel movements per day.
Extreme urgency or fecal incontinence
Cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The causes of IBS are still unknown; however, recent research shows that IBS syndrome may be caused by a problem with neurotransmitters in the brain, just like fibromyalgia.
Similar to fibromyalgia, IBS is often considered a disease caused by psychological reasons, such as stress.
However, new studies show that psychological factors may not be the only ones that play the cause of the disease.
To eliminate excess waste from your body, the intestines contract and expel stool from your body. People with IBS appear to have a hyperactive bowel that contracts continuously. This continuous contraction causes cramps, bloating and intestinal difficulties associated with the disease.
It is thought that people with IBS have an additional sensitivity to the pain and contractions that occur in their gastrointestinal tract. This is very similar to people with fibromyalgia, who have extreme sensitivity to muscle and skin pain.
It has been theorized that both disorders are caused by problems with the brain’s ability to process pain signals. In some way, the brain interprets the pain signals as much more intense than they really are, resulting in serious discomfort and, sometimes, even a disability.
Fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome
For people who suffer from both fibromyalgia and IBS, it is important to understand how the two diseases can impact each other. Up to 70% of people with fibromyalgia have IBS; Similarly, 1 in 5 patients with IBS has fibromyalgia.
Treating both diseases at the same time can be very difficult because the symptoms tend to be much more serious.
IBS worsens fibro symptoms
Recent studies have shown that people who have IBS and fibromyalgia suffer symptoms that are 38% more severe than those who have only one disease. IBS tends to exacerbate the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, while fibromyalgia tends to increase the severity and frequency of IBS symptoms.
Studies also show that people with both diseases tend to have a poorer quality of life than those with only one. This is due to the limitations that the disease can put on your daily lifestyle.
Self-treatment options are often very useful for those who suffer from mild forms of irritable bowel syndrome. An easy way to find relief for your symptoms, including constipation, diarrhea and gas, is through simple changes in your diet.
Keep a diary of the foods you eat and any symptoms that occur later. If you notice that certain foods trigger your symptoms, try to reduce or eliminate them.
For those who suffer from constipation, try to increase the amount of fiber in your diet by eating more whole grain foods. Try to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day to help relieve both constipation and diarrhea.
Stress and anxiety often exacerbate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. This is because the receptors in your brain are directly connected to the nerves in your gastrointestinal tract. Try to reduce stress by sleeping properly, exercising daily and getting advice for your emotional needs.
Sometimes, self-treatments are not enough to fight irritable bowel syndrome. Talk to your doctor about medications that can help reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and increase your comfort level.
Laxatives and stool softeners are often the first-line approach to treating constipation caused by irritable bowel syndrome.
If you suffer from diarrhea, you may want to try antidiarrheal or antispasmodic medications. Antidiarrheals help relieve pain and cramping caused by diarrhea.
Antispasmodic prescription medications work to relieve diarrhea by relaxing the muscles of the intestinal wall. They also reduce the contractions and cramps caused by diarrhea.