In the world, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders with a prevalence rate of 10-15%. It mainly affects the large intestine which can cause the following symptoms such as abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, cramping, diarrhea and/or constipation. But among those having this disorder, only a few patients experience severe symptoms. Doctors recommend using an IBS symptom tracker to manage IBS so they can view reports to confirm if the treatment is working or not.
IBS is also referred to as irritable colon, mucous colitis and spastic colitis. It is basically a group of intestinal symptoms that happen together and varies from one patient to another. These symptoms last at least three months, for at least three days every month.
There are several conditions that present similar symptoms to IBS and these should be ruled out to be able to come up with a diagnosis. Once an individual has IBS, close monitoring of symptoms and triggers is very important.
Tracking IBS symtomps
There are a lot of treatment options available which include diet and lifestyle change, stress management, counseling and medication. That’s why there are health apps created to help you develop a routine and even make necessary lifestyle changes. Paying close attention to when symptoms improve or worsen can also be facilitated with such health apps.
CareClinic is a self-care health platform that can be used to track IBS and all symptoms, as well as set health and exercise goals on a daily basis. This comes with a comprehensive digital health diary which may also record measurements and track mood swings.
Aside from that, the IBS symptom tracker reminds you to take medications at the right time, as well as use it for appointments and counseling sessions. All the data recorded in the app is then compiled into a monthly report which may serve as a health record used by your doctor. But before jumping into the details of this iOS / Android app, getting a deeper knowledge of IBS is essential.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not at all life-threatening, but a condition that is long-lasting that may ultimately change your life. According to statistics, women get IBS more than men and experience the symptoms first between 20-30. Women usually experience it around menstruation, and those in the menopausal stage have fewer symptoms.
With regards to symptoms, the severity varies from different patients. IBS mainly presents with four types of symptoms:
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Others not falling in the three categories
The most common type is IBS with constipation which affects 50% of IBS patients. Second in rank would be IBS with diarrhea affecting one-third of IBS patients, and 20% have IBS with alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea.
Symptoms of IBS may be the same as other gastrointestinal disorders, but the most common that makes it definitive of IBS are:
- Abdominal pain (cramping and burning)
- Bloating and flatulence
- Diarrhea (soft and fluid-like, several times per day)
- Changes in bowel movements
- Food intolerance
- Permanent Fullness
- Visible inflation
- Fatigue and difficulty in sleeping
These are common of IBS but if there are severe symptoms such as fever, sudden loss of weight or blood in the stool, it’s time to consult a physician immediately. These are usually not conclusive of IBS but may link to other serious conditions. It is wise to get started using an IBS symptom tracker as soon as possible so you and your care provider have enough data to see how your treatment is progressing.
The unknown cause
There are no conclusive studies showing the main cause of IBS. Even if this condition’s triggers and symptoms are known, only assumptions are made as to how IBS came to be. Colon hypersensitivity is one top assumption as this pertains to how the colon reacts to mere mild stimulation. When the bowel muscles do abnormal squeezing, this may end up becoming IBS. When the body functions, chemicals such as serotonin and gastrin are secreted which are also linked with this particular disorder. Individuals having disturbed immune function or infections are also susceptible to IBS.
Risk factors such as age, sex, family history and even mental health status are also associated with IBS. That’s why it is hard to pinpoint the etymology of IBS due to profound factors occurring.
Triggers of IBS
A lot of people wonder what triggers IBS and are actually experienced in our day-to-day activities. Food is the most obvious since anything we eat gets through our gastrointestinal tract. People notice a change in their IBS symptoms when they consume dairy, wheat and carbonated beverages. Hormones are also considered as triggers for women, especially during their menstrual cycle. Aside from that, in periods of high stress, IBS symptoms are most pronounced for both men and women.
What to do once diagnosed
A patient will never really know up until he or she sees a gastroenterologist. Seeking medical advice is important to avoid self-medication, which usually worsens the condition. Other gastrointestinal disorders have to be ruled out by the specialist and IBS is determined by differential diagnosis. So disclosing your family history of illness as well as undergoing physical and diagnostic examinations is important.
Oftentimes, the doctor can already diagnose based on the symptoms. But if these are not enough, specialists usually let you undergo a stool exam to rule out infection. Aside from that, requesting a blood test is done to check for the possibility of anemia, as well as to rule out celiac disease. Lastly, a colonoscopy is deemed important if your doctor suspects the symptoms you have are caused by inflammatory bowel disease, colitis or cancer.
IBS treatment options
If you are indeed diagnosed with IBS, the primary treatment is usually focused on alleviating and preventing the symptoms from getting worse. Pain and cramping are one of the top symptoms of IBS and can naturally be treated with plant-based concoctions. Hot compression has also been known to give temporary relief. Synthetic medications such as butylscopolamine, nifedipine, or mebeverine are taken with medical supervision.
To get rid of obstructions, consuming considerable amounts of liquids is part of any IBS treatment. Laxatives may also be taken in the form of suppositories.
For those having IBS with diarrhea, tannins, bicarbonate, or anti-diarrheal medications (loperamide, cromoglicic acid) are commonly used. Of course, these medications should only be taken if prescribed by the physician.
A note in taking loperamide though – it should not be for long-term use. Furthermore, since IBS alongside diarrhea entails losing a lot of fluids in the body, proper rehydration must be done to replace lost fluids.
Having a gassy stomach or flatulence can be very uncomfortable. To get rid of this, fennel, peppermint oil, or caraway may be used. If medications are needed, drugs such as dimethicone or simethicone help relieve these symptoms.
Is there a connection between Dairy and IBS?
Some people with IBS may find that consuming dairy products exacerbates their symptoms, while others may not notice any adverse effects from eating dairy. As with any food that you consume, it is important to pay attention to your body and how it responds to different foods. If you find that consuming dairy leads to an increase in your IBS symptoms, you may want to limit or avoid dairy products in your diet.
You can also drink different types of dairy such as almond, soy, or coconut milk as an alternative to cow’s milk. These dairy alternatives may be easier for some people with IBS to digest and may not trigger symptoms as much as cow’s milk does. If you do choose to consume cow’s milk, opt for low-fat or skim varieties since these contain less fat and may be easier to digest than whole milk. Milk from other animals such as goat’s milk may also be easier to digest than cow’s milk and maybe a suitable alternative for some people with IBS.
Another type of milk that may be easier to digest is A2 milk. This milk comes from cows that produce milk with only the A2 protein, as opposed to the A1 and A2 proteins found in regular cow’s milk. Some people find that drinking A2 milk doesn’t trigger their IBS symptoms, while others may still experience symptoms after drinking it. If you’re unsure whether you can tolerate A2 milk, you can try drinking a small amount to see how your body reacts.
In addition to cow’s milk, dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream may also trigger IBS symptoms in some people. As with any food, it’s important to pay attention to your body and how it responds to different foods. If you find that consuming dairy leads to an increase in your IBS symptoms, you may want to limit or avoid dairy products in your diet.
What are the benefits of keeping a food and symptom diary?
There are many benefits to keeping a food and symptom diary for someone with IBS. The CareClinic app can help you track your progress and see what foods and activities trigger your symptoms. This information can be shared with your doctor to help develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
Keeping a food and symptom diary can also help you to identify patterns in your symptoms and learn how to better manage your condition. For example, if you notice that certain foods make your symptoms worse, you can avoid those foods or eat them in smaller quantities.
Additionally, the diary can help you to track the effectiveness of different treatments. If you are trying a new medication or dietary supplement, you can monitor your symptoms to see if there is any improvement. This information can be very helpful in finding the right treatment for you. The 3 main benefits come down to it helping you to identify patterns in your symptoms, track your progress, and learn what works best for you.
IBS and Lifestyle changes
For those who have IBS and experience great amounts of stress, different relaxation techniques must be done. It could be yoga, meditation, or autogenic training. Diet change also helps in improving the dreaded symptoms.
Modifying or eliminating certain foods such as dairy, beans and indigestible sugars may help in reducing the symptoms. There are some patients who have reported that adding some herbs and spices also alleviates the condition. Then again, have your doctor check this first to avoid complications.
IBS resulting from psychological disorders may also be alleviated by taking antidepressants or psychotherapy, as prescribed by the physician.
Knowing the treatment plans of IBS is crucial in significantly alleviating the symptoms. The regular and proper taking of medications prescribed, as well as following dietary and therapeutic plans can be made possible by using the IBS diary app.
CareClinic IBS Symptom Tracker App
Nowadays, everything is almost digitally advanced even on healthcare. CareClinic has been developing apps such as the symptom tracker to help patients get through their lives. Managing and taking medications on time may sound easy, but pretty hard to do in a busy schedule. There will always be a tendency to miss out on one dose or two if you are not careful. That is why having a medication reminder is very helpful.
The IBS symptom tracker helps in monitoring triggers, moods and symptoms on a daily basis. This app may also be used to set your daily health goals in life.
This app is very useful for IBS patients who need to be reminded regularly when to take their medication or remind of upcoming health appointments/therapy sessions. Taking control of IBS takes a lot of hard work so adhering strictly to a therapeutic plan is a must.
Since this app saves valuable data, compiling a monthly health report can be shared with your physician so that he or she will be able to have a good grasp on your condition. You may be able to get rid of those dreaded symptoms as this IBS app is bound to make a difference in your life completely.
CareClinic is available on Android, iOS, and the web, and you can start using it now by clicking here.