Is your digestive tract on track?
March 14, 2023
A closer look at the importance of gut health during IBS Awareness Month
There are so many things in life we plan and prepare for – but when is the last time you took a good look at your gut health and the impact it has on your everyday health and overall wellness? Not only does gut health affect the stomach, but the entire body including the heart, brain, mental health, digestion and more.
In the Quad Cities, many physicians and patients alike turn to Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center, located in Davenport, to maintain a healthy gut. With the latest technologies including endoscopic ultrasound, colorectal cancer screenings and endoscopies, patients get the very best in care within an outpatient setting.
With April being Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to take note of your gut health and further understand IBS – its symptoms, treatments and when it’s best to seek out an expert like those at the Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center.
What a healthy gut looks like
With roughly 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, housed in our digestive systems, our overall health can be severely impacted by our gut. In fact, many consider the gut the body’s second brain. Having a healthy digestive system is key to your wellbeing, and it all starts with awareness and monitoring of your body.
When you’re monitoring your gut health, there are a few simple things to look for to understand if your digestive system is performing as it should. Passing one to two bowel movements a day that are well-formed and easy to pass is a great sign, along with being free of symptoms like gas, bloating, abdominal pain and hemorrhoids.
For many, signs of an unhealthy gut may include consistent stomach pain, unintentional weight changes, autoimmune disorders, food cravings or intolerances and even sleep disturbances or fatigue. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, your digestive tract may need some attention in order to feel and function at your best.
IBS is a common disorder of the large intestine that impacts more than 35 million Americans. Although IBS isn’t life-threatening, it can be long-lasting and when not treated properly, can affect a person’s day-to-day life. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, and each person’s symptoms can vary greatly. Symptoms of IBS can include:
- Stomach pain
- Cramping or bloating of the stomach
- Sudden or severe diarrhea
- Backaches and gas
- Change in stool
- Inconsistent timing of bowel movements
Understanding the syndrome is the first step of identifying possible bowel abnormalities and managing it. The more you’re aware of different conditions, the better off you are as so many people are affected by IBS directly or indirectly. Not only can you monitor your own wellness, but you can be empathetic to loved ones who are managing the disorder.
The good news? IBS is manageable, if not treatable.
How can IBS be treated?
Changing your diet
Oftentimes, people with IBS experience symptoms while eating or immediately after. This is a strong indicator that diet is a contributing factor. For some people, certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms. For instance, your doctor may recommend avoiding food that contains gluten or adding fiber and seeing if symptoms improve.
Another diet approach is called the low FODMAP diet. This diet reduces or avoids certain foods that contain carbohydrates that are difficult to digest such has highly processed or artificially sweetened foods.
Stress management treatments
The brain and gut work closely together to manage your digestive system. Managing stress through regular sleep patterns, exercise, meditation and relaxation exercises, and even mental health therapy have all been shown to reduce digestive health issues.
A doctor may recommend medicine such as anti-diarrheal medications, constipation relievers, fiber supplements, abdominal pain relievers, antidepressants or others to relieve IBS symptoms. You should always talk to your doctor before starting any kind of over-the-counter or prescription medication.
When should I talk to my doctor?
If you think you might have IBS, it’s important to speak up early so your doctor can create a treatment plan. Think of your body like a car – similar to getting a tune-up every 5,000 miles rather than waiting until your engine starts acting up, you should take a preventative approach with your health. Being proactive with your health is critical, not just for monitoring possible IBS or digestive symptoms, but for your overall wellbeing.
With the latest technology in an outpatient setting like Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center, receiving care is not only easy and efficient, but most importantly, it could increase your quality of life, or even save it.
With a staff that works for positive patient outcomes, those at Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center truly care about the patient success. Ready to get your digestive tract on track? See one of our physicians:
Quad City Gastroenterology
- Dr. Shashinath Chandrahasegowda (Dr. Shashi)
- Dr. Sreenivas Chintalapani (Dr. Chin)
- Dr. Bettaiah Gowda
- Dr. Linda Tong
Digestive Disease Specialists
- Dr. Ahmad Cheema
- Dr. PoonPutt Chotiprasidhi (Dr. Eddie)