Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects about 54 million people in the United States, or about 20% of the population. It is an intestinal disorder with no indications of disease, but which for unknown reasons causes discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, gas and mild to severe pain in the abdomen. The pain of IBS can vary from a throbbing "internal bruising" feeling to sharp cramping sensations. Patients often complain that it feels like they got punched in the stomach or stepped on by an elephant. IBS is not known to lead to any other diseases, but can be inconvenient at best.

IBS is a general term to describe general irregular bowel functions that do not show up during examinations, blood tests or x-rays according to the FDA. Yet doctors know that it exists and that it is not completely psychological as previously believed. The National Institute of Health say that people who live with IBS simply have more sensitive digestive tracts. Their colons are more likely to react to stimulus than other adults or children with normal colons. IBS "attacks" can be triggered by eating greasy or fatty foods, some kinds of dairy products, certain medications, depression, gas, stress, lack of exercise, and even by eating raisins or corn.

An FDA report quotes many IBS research subjects as saying that the disorder has affected their everyday life. One teacher in Connecticut told them that she had to give up teaching in a classroom because her condition prevented her from being able to stay with the kids all day. She even purchased a van to give her more "privacy in her time of need" and keeps a fresh pair of underwear, anti-diarrheal tablets and other emergency items in there just in case.

Constipation is also an effect of IBS. Some adults and children have reported not having a bowel movement for up to 10 days at times. When they finally go to the bathroom, it is extremely painful and rectal bleeding often occurs. In both cases of diarrhea and constipation episodes, severe pain usually occurs. This is why this disorder can, and often is, mistaken for other spastic colon disorders such as colitis. While both conditions usually cause spasms in the colon, only colitis causes inflammation. IBS does not. Dr. Marvin Shuster, a gastroenterologist from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center states that "Irritable bowel syndrome is the most suitable and accurate term... because it emphasizes that the condition is a motor disorder manifesting irritability (that) involves many areas of the gut."

Humans' digestive system has a nervous system that is separate from the brain and does not depend on the brain in order to function properly. Instead, according to Marcelo A. Barreiro, M.D. of the FDA's gastrointestinal division, the intestines "respond to its inputs under various conditions." He also says that in patients with IBS, the central nervous system (controlled by the brain) and the gastrointestinal nervous system are "out of sync". This means that if an individual is under particularly heavy stress, then the brain may send a conflicting message to the intestines that invokes irritability within the digestive system.

Treatments

Unfortunately, because IBS affects everyone in different ways there is no "cure-all" treatment.

There used to be a medication for IBS called Lotronex. However, it was taken off the shelf just 10 months after being released due to serious side effects and sometimes deaths related to the drug. FDA reports being concerned about mild to moderate damage occurring in the intestines due to reduced blood flow and obstructions and/or ruptures in the intestinal wall.

Other antispasmodic medications are being used to treat IBS especially when other treatments don't work. IBS sufferers should always try to manage their disorder with a high-fiber diet, lots of water and regular exercise. Also, individuals with IBS should avoid certain foods like dairy, cabbage, beans, sorbitol, artificial sweeteners and fructose. But most of the time, that just isn't enough.

Probiotic supplements (a safe alternative to yogurt for individuals who are sensitive to dairy products) are an effective way to reduce gas and harmful bacteria. Although, most healthcare practitioners don't recommend even bothering with probiotic treatments unless you have done a colon cleanse first. While probiotics can promote good bacteria in the intestines, it doesn't do anything for the build up of plaque and waste along your intestinal walls.

Colon Cleansing has been praised as an all natural, safe and very effective way to deal with IBS on all ends of the spectrum from constipation to diarrhea. Using colon cleansers containing psyllium or psyllimax is the best way "reset" your colon and get it back to normal quickly. A good colon cleanser such as Dr. Floras Colon Cleanse, will only take about 14 days to work and users will start seeing improvements in their condition in about 7-10 days.

Colon cleansing will relieve the bloating, water retention and cramping associated with IBS as well as some other symptoms that you didn't even know were related like headaches, acne and fatigue. This is why many doctors and healthcare practitioners recommend that everyone use colon cleansers for good colon health; because it is a safe and effective way to clean out the waste build-up that can accumulate in the intestines. This build-up can cause health problems such as IBS, diarrhea, constipation, cancer, fatigue and even promote the attachment and growth of parasites.

IBS is a difficult disorder to live with especially since an effective treatment can be difficult to find among individuals. However, with good diet, exercise, plenty of water, and regular colon cleansing it can be managed.

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