There is a growing concern about the increase frequency that individuals are complaining of symptoms of abdominal pain and bloating. Some common causes which should be considered are: Irritable Bowel Disease, Diverticulitis and other Gastro-intestinal GI and non-GI conditions.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
The cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not well understood. It is a group of symptoms which affect the colon or large bowels. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also known as colitis, nervous colon and spastic bowels. It is important to note that these names also demonstrate the link between physical and mental causes.
Mental conditions which are associated with IBS are anxiety, depression, panic disorder (PTSD), and post-traumatic stress disorder. Other conditions associated with IBS include: food sensitivity, bacterial gastroenteritis, overgrowth of bacteria, altered level of the body chemicals called neurotransmitters, hypersensitivity to intestinal distension due to gas or stool, and hereditary (genetic) causes.
Symptoms of IBS
- Cramping pain or discomfort in the abdomen
- Loose stools which can alternate with constipation
- Passage of mucus
- A sensation that a bowel action is incomplete
- Bloating of the abdomen
An anomaly which can occur in the wall of the colon (large bowel) is the formation of pouches (pockets) that push into the lumen of the large intestines. These pouches are called diverticula and when they become irritated, inflamed, and infected the condition is called diverticulitis.
A link has been established between diverticular disease and chronic constipation, overweight, lack of physical exercise, smoking and certain types of medications (steroids, aspirin) to name a few.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis are:
o Left-sided severe abdominal pain of sudden onset
o Chills and fever
o Nausea or vomiting
o Loose stools or constipation
o Blood in the stool. Significant bleeding will result in;
- Fainting spells
Other Causes of Abdominal Bloating
There are many illnesses that can cause the abdomen to feel tight and uncomfortably distended. Most of the causes are related to illnesses of the gastro-intestinal tract, but there are a few which are not GI-related. Here are some of the illnesses:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Lactose intolerance
- Gall stones
- Gastro-intestinal infections (E.coli, H.Pyloric)
Non-GI causes of Bloating are:
- Ectopic Pregnancy
General Management and Treatment
If you are having symptoms of IBS, diverticulosis, or abdominal bloating then it is important to consult with your healthcare provider who will do a physical examination, diagnostic tests, and initiate treatment with medication to relieve abdominal pain and discomfort.
The cross–cutting conservative management to prevent and control these GI illnesses requires a change in lifestyle especially the diet. Other lifestyle changes are: stress management, physical exercise, smoking cessation, and limiting alcohol intake.
The cross–cutting conservative management to prevent and control these GI illnesses requires a change in lifestyle especially the diet.
Dietary changes include:
- Eating small meals every 2-3 hours
- Limiting caffeine drinks including coffee and tea
- Have at least 8 glasses of fluid daily
- Avoiding spicy foods if these trigger the symptoms
- Restrict fruit to only 3 servings per day if the predominant symptom is diarrhea
- Fiber supplement is useful if the predominant symptom is constipation
- Eat oats to alleviate bloating and wind
Other lifestyle changes are:
- Stress management: A lifestyle coach can assist you to identify the stressors in your life and help you with practical suggestions to minimize the adverse effects.
- Physical exercise: There are tremendous benefits to be gained from daily physical exercise.
- Smoking cessation: Get help to overcome the addiction of nicotine.
- Limiting alcohol intake.
See your doctor who will assess and treat your symptoms if the lifestyle adjustments have not improved the abdominal pain and bloating.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
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