Irritable bowel syndrome is a disease that is being diagnosed more and more often.
Even worse, the condition occurs not only in adults but also in children. An estimated 8.8% of babies can have this condition. What is causing it? How can you control it?
Although abdominal pain usually goes away on its own, in a situation where it often recurs or is accompanied by other ailments, it is necessary to consult a doctor.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Causes
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the digestive system, that is, the cause of which cannot always be identified.
The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not fully understood. It is believed that its occurrence is associated with genetic, physical and psychological factors. Possible causes include mainly visceral hypersensitivity and gastrointestinal motility disorders, as well as changes in microbiota composition, activation of the immune system, and overgrowth of bacterial flora. Scientists also see a role for the brain-intestinal axis (certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, are transmitted between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract). People with this condition may be especially sensitive to stress and experience an increase in symptoms when it occurs (this applies even to 50-80% of patients). Food hypersensitivity – intolerance to FODMAPs (fermenting oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols) is also mentioned among the factors causing or aggravating symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome causes vary and are usually individual. This is why the treatment is so difficult.
But that is not all. Some studies show that stomach flu can also contribute to the development of the disease.
The incidence of irritable bowel syndrome can be up to 6 times higher in people who have had a gastrointestinal infection compared to people who have not had an episode of gastrointestinal infection.
Symptoms of the disease
Irritable bowel syndrome in adults is diagnosed on the basis of characteristic symptoms, that is, periodic abdominal pain that occurs on average at least once a week (within 3 months before visiting a doctor), with symptoms such as: a change in the frequency of bowel movements and stool consistency. Other symptoms may also appear: headache, drowsiness, pain in the lumbar spine, and menstrual irregularities in girls and women.
In children, as in adults, a hallmark of functional disorders with abdominal pain is the inability to associate symptoms with an organic disorder (eg, celiac disease). The criteria are basically the same as for adults.
How to confirm irritable bowel syndrome?
It is estimated that about 11% of people have hypersensitive gut problems. Women are more likely to seek help from specialists, and every second patient is younger than 35 years old. Studies show that irritable bowel syndrome can affect about 8.8% of young patients.
Not all abdominal pain is a medical condition, but consultation with your doctor is necessary if you or your child has chronic abdominal pain.
While the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are fairly common at first glance, the diagnosis is not easy. Therefore, the diagnosis is based primarily on the exclusion of other diseases that can cause similar ailments. For adults, a doctor may prescribe:
Blood test – anemia and an increase in leukocytes require a more accurate diagnosis;
· CRP protein in serum and / or calprotectin in feces – allows you to exclude inflammatory bowel disease;
· Study of antibodies to tissue transglutaminase IgA and determination of total IgA – with celiac disease (in case of positive results, gastroscopy and taking a sample for research will be required);
· Microbiological and parasitological analyzes of feces (for parasites);
· Breath tests for SIBO (bacterial overgrowth syndrome);
· Ultrasound of the abdominal cavity;
· Colonoscopy in justified cases.
In children, as in adults, the diagnosis is made by analyzing the symptoms. There are no diagnostic tests for irritable bowel syndrome. If you are constipated, your doctor may prescribe a laxative.
If abdominal pain subsides with relief of constipation, it is most likely a sign of functional constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome – how to deal with it?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disease that cannot be cured. But you can control it. Depending on the form of the disease, the doctor will recommend the use of antispasmodics or antidepressants, as well as other drugs, including rifaximin, loperamide, macrogol. The course of treatment also includes:
Peppermint oil preparations – in a dose of 180-225 mg 2 times a day for 2 to 12 weeks – consult your doctor when choosing a drug;
Phytopreparations – there are no clear recommendations, they are recommended in specific clinical situations (the doctor decides on the use);
Probiotics – it is recommended to use certain strains of probiotics that have been tested for safety and efficacy, for example, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, Saccharomyces boulardi or Bifidobacterium infants (consult your doctor about the choice of drugs).
Treatment in children is aimed at restoring normal functioning. Full recovery is very rare, so therapy is primarily aimed at relieving symptoms and improving their tolerance.