Do certain foods give you embarrassing digestive trouble?
Do you race to the toilet multiple times a day, or go days without a bowel movement?
This article examines the most common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and what to do next.
What is IBS?
IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by recurrent digestive stress.
Those affected may have difficulty eating certain short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs.
IBS is not life-threatening but can cause stress and anxiety in everyday life if unmanaged.
It’s a problem for up to 20% of the population in the US and UK, 13% in Australia and 11% worldwide. In particular, women, those over 50, and people with previous gastrointestinal tract infections are more likely to have it (1, 2, 3).
Most people fall into 4 different IBS subtypes:
- Constipation (IBS-C)
- Diarrhea (IBS-D)
- Mixed constipation and diarrhea (IBS-M)
- Neither constipation or diarrhea occurring often (IBS-U)
Problem is that IBS is difficult to diagnose because it has no blood markers. Currently the best way for doctors to diagnose IBS is via the recurrent symptoms listed below.
Summary: IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by a variety of recurrent digestive symptoms. Your doctor will use these symptoms to help diagnose IBS.
1. Recurrent Bloating
Do you suffer from bloating on a regular basis?
Stomach bloating is one of the most common IBS symptoms.
In fact, up to 96% of people with IBS experience bloating because they tend to have an over-sensitive gut lining (4).
One study of 198 IBS patients found bloating to be more common among those with intermittent symptoms and diarrhea.
Summary: It seems bloating is common in both of the main IBS types, IBS-C and IBS-D.
2. Recurrent Diarrhea Is One of the Most Common IBS Symptoms
One of the most common subtypes of IBS is IBS-D.
This is usually diagnosed when diarrhea affects you every day. At least much more so than regular bowel movements or constipation.
So you may be experiencing recurrent loose or watery bowel movements, typically with increased frequency and/or urgency. And this does not just go on for day, but for weeks or months.
Approximately 40% of people with IBS have IBS-D (7).
Summary: IBS-D is a common form of IBS characterized by chronic diarrhea.
3. Long-Term Constipation
In contrast to diarrhea, long-term constipation can also be a sign of IBS.
This is known as IBS-C.
Constipation is defined as having to strain to pass bowel movements, having the sensation of incomplete evacuation, and/or struggling to pass a bowel movement regularly (8).
Roughly 35% of IBS sufferers identify with the subtype IBS-C (7).
Summary: Long-term constipation is one symptom associated with IBS.
4. Alternating Constipation and Diarrhea
Having both diarrhea and constipation is also common in IBS.
It’s called IBS-M (M is for mixed).
This is a useful chart for identifying which classification you may fall into.
See your doctor to determine what subtype you may have.
Summary: Alternating between constipation and diarrhea is common with IBS and called IBS-M.
5. Abdominal Pain, Cramping and Excessive Gas
Intestinal gas is one of the most frequent IBS symptoms.
Study participants have said they experience at least some gas 74% of the time, and excessive gas for the remainder (9).
Gas regularly accompanies abdominal pain and cramping in IBS.
The pain is often described as crampy, sharp, dull, gas-like, or a generalized ache with periods of cramps. This usually subsides after a bowel movement or passing gas.
Summary: Chronic gas accompanied with abdominal pain, cramping, and sometimes nausea, is very common with IBS and tends to ease after a bowel movement.
6. Mucus in Your Stools
It will typically be clear or white in color.
Several other more serious digestive disorders are associated with mucus in the stool, including:
It’s very important that your doctor rules out any other conditions before dismissing this symptom.
Summary: Mucus in your stool can indicate other more serious issues. Alert your doctor if you have this symptom to rule out other conditions.
7. Garlic and Onion Cause You Grief
Digestive troubles after eating garlic and onion is common, especially in people with IBS.
This is because they’re very high in FODMAPs, particularly fructans. In fact, many of the symptoms in this article are often referred to as FODMAP symptoms.
Unfortunately it’s hard to avoid garlic and onion as they’re used in so many dishes and food products.
In fact, it’s likely garlic or onion powder is an ingredient in something you eat on a regular basis.
Summary: Fructans in garlic and onion can cause digestive distress for those with IBS.
8. Lethargy and Daytime Fatigue
Unexpected signs of IBS include sleep disturbances and daytime fatigue.
The most common manifestations include:
- Sleeping less
- Waking up during sleep
- Difficulty falling asleep
- And non-restorative sleep (10).
All of these can result in daytime fatigue, which occur irrespective of other sleep-affecting conditions such as anxiety or depression (11).
Summary: Many people with IBS experience sleep disturbances and daytime fatigue.
What To Do If You Have IBS or FODMAP symptoms
If you have any of the symptoms above, go to your doctor for a check-up.
While IBS is not life-threatening, the symptoms can relate to other more serious conditions.
Once IBS is diagnosed, a dietitian can guide you on diet and lifestyle changes that will help get rid of symptoms.
A Low FODMAP Diet Can Help
The best known strategy for treating IBS is a Low-FODMAP diet (13).
FODMAPs are a short-chain carbohydrates that ferment in the large intestine if not properly digested.
A high-quality Australian study reported that 70% of participants with IBS felt better after only one week on a low-FODMAP diet, compared with a typical diet (12).
For details on how to get started, click here.
Washington State to Give Away Free Cannabis Joints With COVID-19 Jabs
Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Washington have been given the go-ahead by authorities to offer free joints to adults who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The “Joints for Jabs” program announced on Monday by the state’s liquor and cannabis board allows marijuana proprietors to offer pre-rolled joints to anyone over 21 who gets a vaccine shot at a clinic by July 12.
The offer only applies to pre-rolled weed cigarettes, and not to other products like edibles or loose cannabis flower, reports Associated Press.
So far, 58 percent of Washington residents have received at least a single dose while 49 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times.
Gov. Jay Inslee has said that he would lift all pandemic restrictions by month’s end, if not sooner, once 70 percent of residents over the age of 16 have received their first dose of the vaccine.
The new promotion is a part of increased efforts by the state to allow breweries, wineries, restaurants and entertainment venues to offer free beverages and other goods in exchange for proof of vaccination. Free sports tickets and lotteries for cash prizes have also been offered to incentivize the vaccine for hesitant residents of the state.
States and cities across the United States have offered various promotions since the pace of vaccinations began to sharply decline in April.
The Biden administration has encouraged such creative approaches in hopes to keep up the rapid pace of vaccinations across the country, with White House officials saying that states could pay for the promotions using federal relief funds.
Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.
Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.
Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.
Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.
Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.
“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”
However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.
In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
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