Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or functional colopathy, is a problem of the digestive tract which causes chronic abdominal pain. Manifesting as spasms or cramps, this pain is normally accompanied by uncomfortable bloating and dysfunctional transit (diarrhea or constipation).
Between 5% and 15% of the population are thought to suffer from the syndrome. It is more common among women, with 2-3 females affected for every male (1).
This increased sensitivity of the gut causes considerable discomfort in those affected, both physiologically and psychologically. IBS may also result in headaches, fatigue, a sense of isolation, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, etc. (2)
This functional bowel disorder is nonetheless benign: it neither increases the risk of bowel cancer nor appears to lower life expectancy.
Depending on the individual, IBS appears to be caused by:
Episodes of IBS are normally triggered by one or more of the following factors:
There is currently no definitive treatment for IBS, but there are ways of reducing the frequency and intensity of symptoms. We would advise anyone suffering from IBS to consult their GP, who will be able to diagnose their problem and potentially prescribe suitable medication (anti-diarrheal drugs, laxatives, anti-depressants to block pain perception, etc.)
In addition, the general advice for IBS-sufferers is to:
SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. We know that the adult digestive system contains a wide range of microorganisms known as the gut microbiota. This microflora is essential not only for digestion but for our health in general. In someone with SIBO, the problem is that too many bacteria develop in the small intestine.
Their unwelcome presence triggers premature initiation of the food-fermenting process, which increases the production of intestinal gases: hydrogen, methane ... Like IBS, SIBO thus manifests in bloating, flatulence, digestive spasms, reflux or transit problems.
In addition, this disease usually causes deterioration to the intestinal wall, impaired carbohydrate digestion and poor absorption of nutrients (responsible for many deficiencies), as they get taken up by the bacteria. Again like IBS, SIBO can also give rise to a series of additional problems: chronic fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating...
It’s important to say that this gut flora disorder is widely under-diagnosed, as there is little awareness of it among doctors, apart from in English-speaking countries (10). In France, it has been publicised by journalist and blogger Dora Moutot through her book À fleur de pet - le 1er livre sur la maladie des hyperballonnés qui ont le microbiote à l'envers (‘Fit to burst - the first book on the condition that causes extreme bloating in those with an upside-down microbiota’) (2019) (11).
SIBO may be initiated by:
Those who think they may have SIBO are advised to consult their doctor for a confirmed diagnosis and potential prescription of antibiotics to try and stem the spread of bacteria. There are also a number of natural approaches to consider:
Let’s end this overview of chronic intestinal problems by looking at IBD – Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
The term IBD covers two similar but distinct conditions: Crohn’s disease (or regional ileitis) and ulcerative colitis.
Both involve inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. In ulcerative colitis, the inflammation more specifically affects the rectum and bowel. IBD can cause abdominal discomfort, recurrent diarrhea or even anal abscesses.
It also increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer(22).
Incidence of IBD has been on the rise since 1945. This may be due to:
Again, there is no real treatment for IBD. It is more a question of management:
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