What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or spastic colon is not a disease, it is a functional bowel disorder, which means that the bowel doesn’t work as it should. It affects gut motility, the rate at which the contents of the bowel are pushed along to the rectum and is characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, constipation, diarrhoea or alternate bouts of constipation and diarrhoea. With IBS the nerves and muscles in the bowel are extra sensitive – the muscles may contract too much when you eat. These contractions can cause cramping and diarrhoea during or shortly after a meal, or the nerves can be very sensitive and cramping and pain can result.
What are the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome?
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive wind
- Mucus in stool
- Small ribbon or pebble like bowel movements
- Rectal discomfort
- Tightness around the waist
- Headache or backache
What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Because doctors have been unable to find an organic cause IBS often has been thought to be caused by emotional conflict or stress. While stress may worsen IBS symptoms, research suggests that other factors also are important. Researchers have found that the colon muscle of a person with IBS begins to spasm after only mild stimulation.
Stress reduction (relaxation) training and hypnotherapy can help Irritable bowel syndrome by relaxing the muscles of the gut and relieving the symptoms. If you already have IBS, stress can trigger symptoms. In fact the bowel can over-react to all sorts of things, including, food, exercise and hormones.
How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnosed?
IBS usually is diagnosed after doctors exclude more serious organic diseases. The doctor will take a complete medical history that includes a careful description of the symptoms, and a physical examination and laboratory tests will be done.
What has hypnotherapy to do with IBS?
There is a wealth of evidence that stress exacerbates gut problems and you may have become trapped in a vicious circle of physical symptoms, anxiety, and so on. Hypnosis can help break this cycle and increase psychological well being. However hypnosis specifically targeted towards the gut has proved effective in removing the actual symptoms of IBS in a number of clinical trials carried out by the medical profession. This is supported by many years of clinical experience both in the NHS and complementary fields.
Gut directed hypnosis was first developed by Dr. P. J. Whorwell at the University Hospital of South Manchester in 1984 for the treatment of irritable bowel. His department has both clinical evidence and many years of practical experience to show that the symptoms can be eliminated, or substantially reduced by the use of hypnotherapy. Eight out of ten patients readily admit to feeling eighty per cent better following a course of treatment, which is usually between six and eight sessions.
What is the treatment?
IBS has no cure, but you can do things to relieve the symptoms.
- Diet changes
- Stress Relief
- Counselling and support
- Regular exercise such as walking
- Changes to stressful situations in your life
- Adequate sleep
Gut directed hypnotherapy or self-hypnosis is one of the most promising areas of IBS treatment. Current research shows that symptom reduction from IBS using hypnotherapy can last for a long time. There is a strong brain-gut component to IBS and cognitive therapy may improve symptoms in a proportion of patients in conjunction with anti-depressants. On-going investigational research also involves relationship to food allergies, poor bacterial balance, parasites, scar tissue that affects bowel motility, and bacterial overgrowth as a cause of symptoms.
IBS is not fatal, nor is it linked to the development of other serious bowel diseases. However, due to pain, discomfort and other symptoms, time off from work and other negative quality of life effects can be quite common in more serious cases. People who find good self-help options should be able to develop a successful treatment programme for their symptoms and lead normal lives.
*Disclaimer: Results may vary from person to person
Lindsey Cummisky says
IBS can be classified as either diarrhea-predominant (IBS-D), constipation-predominant (IBS-C), or with alternating stool pattern (IBS-A or pain-predominant). In some individuals, IBS may have an acute onset and develop after an infectious illness characterized by two or more of the following: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or positive stool culture. This post-infective syndrome has consequently been termed “post-infectious IBS” (IBS-PI).