Do you feel bloated all the time, especially after you eat? Is there pain in your belly after mealtimes that eventually leads to diarrhea? Although unpleasant to think about, almost everyone experiences these symptoms at some point. But if these are daily hurdles for you, occurring repeatedly over several months, there is more going on in your gut. This is especially the case if you find yourself staying within running distance from a bathroom, knowing you are going to be in there for 20 minutes or more at a time!
If situations like these are a daily predicament, you might be thinking, “What is wrong with me? Why is my digestion so out of whack? Why has eating becoming such a difficult task for me?” Thoughts like this may make you feel lonely, depressed and desperate for answers, particularly if you have gone to several doctors and nobody seems to pinpoint the problem.
What is IBS?
You are not alone! You may have a very common condition called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). According to the American College of Gastroenterology, IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States.1 If you have IBS, the following symptoms may happen over a period of several months:
- Abdominal pain or cramping that can happen randomly or soon after a meal, typically relievedor partially relieved by going to the bathroom
- Bloating and excessive gas
- Diarrhea or constipation (or both)
- Mucus in the stool
Although common, IBS is often underdiagnosed. Out of the 10-15% of the adult population who suffers from IBS symptoms in the US, only 5-7% have been diagnosed with the disease. Historically, IBS is diagnosed as a group of symptoms and is often a “catch-all” diagnosis if other GI diseases cannot be pinpointed. The problem with the catch-all diagnosis of IBS is that it does not speak to the wide array of possible underlying causes.
IBS and SIBO
New research suggests that IBS can often overlap with more defined conditions, like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). In fact, upwards of 70% of people with IBS have undiagnosed SIBO. 2 SIBO is a serious condition that affects the small intestine. It occurs when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine in larger numbers. SIBO can be caused by anything that contributes to low motility, like sluggish thyroid function, prolonged stress, or snacking all the time.
Tips for Improved Gut Health
There are several factors that mess with your digestion and I have heard them all. I would be happy to talk to you more about your gut health and together we can rule out all the possible underlying causes while working to improve your diet and explore possible treatment options to restore optimal gut health. We would like to invite you to join us for a Masterclass where we will be discussing how to improve your gut health naturally. You can register here. We look forward to seeing you there!
- Ghoshal UC, Shukla R, Ghoshal U. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Bridge between Functional Organic Dichotomy. Gut Liver. 2017 Mar 15;11(2):196-208. doi: 10.5009/gnl16126. PMID: 28274108; PMCID: PMC5347643.