Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a long-term condition that causes recurrent pain or discomfort in the abdomen and creates abnormal bowel habits. While some people learn to live with the problem, others find it seriously affects their lives. Besides causing pain
or discomfort in the abdomen or lower rectum, it may also be associated with stomach cramps, with pain that can be mild or severe.
The cause of IBS is not certain, but is believed to be to do with genetic make-up, more frequent or stronger contractions of the muscles lining the bowel, and increased sensitivity to the gas inside your bowel. Psychological factors, such as stress, may trigger symptoms. Antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can aggravate the condition. Symptoms may be worse after eating specific foods (such as tea or coffee, or fatty foods)
Although there is no simple cure for IBS, treatments can help reduce the symptoms and improve the sufferer's quality of life. The symptoms of IBS can include:
- excess bloating and flatulence (wind)
- nausea, belching and vomiting
- back pain, and associated bowel irregularity
- bladder problems
This can lead to low morale, avoidance of social events, depression and anxiety. IBS varies in the effects that it has on sufferers. These may include:
- faeces that vary in consistency (from hard and pellet-like to loose and watery)
- passing just small amounts of mucus
- alternating between constipation and diarrhoea
- feeling an urgent need to open bowels or feeling strained, and later perhaps feeling that they have not been completely emptied
Diagnosis of IBS will be made by a doctor, who will discuss the sufferer's symptoms, bowel movements and medical history, and will carry out a range of tests. If more serious bowel conditions are suspected, further tests may be carried out, such as examination of the bowel or abdomen with a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, or through X-ray examination and a barium enema.
A range of self-help treatments may be useful. These might include:
- ensuring a healthy lifestyle
- taking regular exercise
- learning relaxation and stress management techniques
- keeping a diary, to help identify what triggers symptoms
- managing your diet, to include: eating regular meals, drinking enough fluids and limiting soft drinks, caffeine and alcohol, cutting down on foods high in insoluble fibre, such as wholemeal bread and rice, avoiding processed foods, eating no more than three portions of fruit a day, considering eating oats and taking a tablespoon of linseed a day, to reduce bloating
You should always see your doctor first, to ensure proper diagnosis and deal with any underlying medical issues, and to establish that hypnotherapy is an appropriate treatment in your situation.
Hypnotherapy is an ideal treatment for IBS, as it works on an unconscious level to help the sufferer achieve a proper balance. The main aim of hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS is to reduce the stress and anxiety, while relieving the pain and other symptoms.
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