Better Health & Living: Defeating IBS Naturally
Posted 24 November 2008 - 04:42 PM
Better Health & Living - November 2008
Defeating IBS Naturally
New strategies help you get your life back
by Kathy Canavan
It's time for people with irritable bowel syndrome to come out of the closet. And the bedroom. And most especially, the bathroom. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, strikes when there's miscommunication between your brain and your bowels for reasons that are still unknown. The results: loss of control over bowel function, severe cramping, bloating, and chronic abdominal pain. Some people have frequent diarrhea, others are often constipated, and others alternate between the extremes. As many as one in five Americans has IBS, accounting for one of every 10 visits to a doctor's office.Fortunately, most folks have mild symptoms, but for a minority, IBS is so severe that life becomes a daily, painful challenge. On the positive side, though, IBS doesn’t lead to more serious problems; it can go into remission or disappear entirely, and most people can successfully control—or at least minimize—symptoms by modifying their diet, controlling stress, and using some proven natural remedies.
First, See Your Doctor
Because IBS can mimic more serious illnesses, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, an accurate diagnosis is essential, says Lin Chang, MD, an IBS researcher and director of the Women’s Digestive Health Center at UCLA. Diagnosing IBS is tricky, so tell your doctor about all your symptoms, no matter how awkward or embarrassed you may feel about sharing icky, intimate details.....
Jeffrey D. Roberts, a 46-year-old computer professional living in Toronto, Ontario, was first diagnosed with IBS when he was a high-school freshman. His symptoms are so severe that his family delays birthday parties and cancels trips when he has flare-ups. Still, Roberts says he considers himself lucky because he has found some relief with exercise, probiotics, and prescription meds.To share what he’s learned with others, Roberts founded the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Association in 1987 and put the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self-Help and Support Group on the Web in 1995.
The site http://www.ibsgroup.org gets 200,000 visitors a month to check out its news, forums, blogs, chat room, and pen pal program for those affected by IBS."People suddenly find us, and they usually post a message, saying, ‘I can’t believe there are other people who feel the same way I do. I thought I was the only one," Roberts says. Most people find they benefit from not only the camaraderie but also each other’s experiences, which can often lead to relief. "You need to take charge of yourself," Roberts says. "You can't rely on your physician to know everything. Do your research, and talk to your physician about that research."
Kathy Canavan is an award-winning newspaper journalist in Delaware.
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