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|Imbalanced gut flora|
|Written by littlebopeep1|
|28 August 2008|
The flora that populated our guts are so important to every aspect of our health. Many women don't realize that when they take an antibiotic, especially repeatedly, it can wipe out their bacteria good and the bad. Once the friendly bacteria that help digest your food and protect the gut lining become imbalacned, digestive and immune capabilities are comproimsed, potentially leading to IBS. Certain steroid medications can also disturb floral balance in the gut, as does an overgrowth of yeast such as in the intestines. Both can lead to or worsen IBS.
GI infection. Along the same track, research clearly shows a much higher incidence of IBS following GI infection-twice as high, by some reports. Some women develop IBS after contracting a case of food poisoning or any on of numerous other. Most of these pathogens can be easily treated with herbs or antibiotics once recognized, but resistance in certain bugs is becoming increasingly worrisome, so I generally don't hand out antibiotics to patients complaining of IBS without first sending a stool sample out to be tested.
Food sensitivities/intolerances. Over half of the women I see with irritiable bowel syndrome have unidentified food sensitivities or intolerances. Some of the most common food triggers are wheat, sugar, corn, chocolate, dairy, coffee, tea, citrus fruits. Although food can be complex and change over time, we use sentitive allergy antibody tests and an elimination diet to treat them effectively. Once the problematic foods are discovered and eliminated from the diet, the gut will quiet down and the symptoms of IBS often disappear.
Hormonal imbalance. Lots of women notice that their IBS symptoms are worst just before the periods. Why this occurs is not clear, but it may have to do with the pattern of hormonal fluctuation in the second half of the cycle: estrogen is lower for several days, whereas progesterone is relatively high at the end of the cycle, then drops off suddenly just before menses. Progesterone in general slows gut motility, and lower-than-normal estrogen levels have been indentified in women with IBS. It's possible that when the ratio between these two sex hormones is off, sluggish bowels could in turn worsen pelvic congestion, cramping, and abnorminal distention.
Stess and anxiety. As anyone with IBS knows, stress and anxiety can affect the body in many ways. When we're stressed, changes occur in the autonomic nervous system-the system of nerves that make up the sympathetic (governs our "fight or flight" responses) and parasympathetic (regulates the "rest and digest" responses) nervous systems. In patients with irritable bowel syndrome, input from the brain sends a message to decreases digestion and increases motility of the colon. resulting in the rapid passage of incompletely digested stool.
written by maryanne
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