Chronic digestive symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea, or constipation may indicate you have irritable bowel syndrome. IBS affects women primarily, and isn’t a distinct disease; rather, it’s a condition that may be successfully managed with dietary and lifestyle interventions. Dr. Maura Scanlan is a naturopath who uses non-pharmaceutical products and adjustments to your lifestyle habits to relieve the very uncomfortable symptoms of IBS. Residents of Issaquah, Washington, and surrounding areas can contact her at her practice, A Path to Natural Health, by calling the office or using the convenient online booking option.
Some type of chronic digestive distress is the primary hallmark of IBS. It’s not as serious as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and doesn’t raise your risk of developing colon cancer. IBS does not mean you have damage to your gut either. But the symptoms of IBS digestive upset -- including diarrhea and cramping -- occur frequently enough to disrupt your daily comfort and function.
Everyone has digestive problems on occasion, but if they’re chronic or disturb your quality of life, you may need medical assistance.
IBS symptoms vary from mild to severe. You might experience them after eating specific foods, or they may seemingly come out of nowhere. Common symptoms include:
In women, these symptoms may be particularly prevalent around the time of their periods.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes IBS, but it may be a result of disrupted signals between the brain and the intestines. People with irritable bowel syndrome may also have extra-sensitive intestinal nerves that are triggered when you’re under stress or certain foods are consumed.
Conventional medical doctors may recommend drug therapy to treat IBS, but as a naturopath, Dr. Scanlan doesn’t believe this is necessarily the best or only answer to your digestive problems. Many of the drugs prescribed for the symptoms of IBS have serious side effects.
Before turning to medication, Dr. Scanlan helps you determine the underlying causes of your irritable bowel syndrome. She does a thorough review of your diet and may suggest taking oral digestive enzymes to assist your body in digestion.
Simple dietary strategies, such as avoiding fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, and sugary treats, helps prevent IBS symptoms from occurring. You may also need to be aware of the combination of foods you eat together, as this can also slow digestion and make symptoms appear. Drinking while you’re eating, even if it’s just water, can also interfere with your body’s ability to smoothly process foods.