Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional bowel disorder diagnosed by primary care physicians and gastroenterologists. It is hard to estimate the exact prevalence of IBS because up to 70% of people with IBS symptoms do not go for medical treatment.
The ratio of female-to-male sufferers is approximately 2:1.
IBS affects up to one in five Americans and is second only to the common cold as a leading cause of missing work in the U.S.
IBS costs the U.S. healthcare system is estimates as $20 to 25 billion annually in direct and indirect costs.
What are the symptoms?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome occurs sproadically. It is accompanied by a wide range of symptoms, including abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, and altered bowel function (constipation and/or diarrhea).
Because Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not consdered a life threatening condition, the medical community has not until recently considered IBS to be a disease. Instead, it was considered to be a somatic response to excessive stress.
Now, the impact of IBS on quality of life has been estimated to be greater than that of diabetes, and similar to that of clinical depression.
What to do?
Because of origin of IBS is still an unknow, the goal of therapy is symptom management and reduction in the frequency and severity of episodes, or "bouts" as they are referred to. The management of IBS ranges from dietary and behavioral changes to medications.
Dietary changes can include increasing fiber while also reducing dairy products, fatty foods, spices and caffeine. People are often encouraged to try an exclusion diet - restricting their diet to bland foods, gradually adding new foods, and recording symptoms.
There are over-the-counter medications used to manage symptoms - having the greatest impact on bowel function by either slowing down or speeding up transit times.
Probiotics are currently a very important consideration to help in the management of IBS, as they support a healthy, normal digestive system.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microbial food supplements which beneficially affect the host by improving the intestinal microbial balance.
Many of the probiotic products on the market today contain lactobacillus (a type of lactic acid bacteria), which, in fact, represent a relatively small proportion of the normal total gut microflora.
Lactic acid producing bacteria (LAB) are the group of bacteria that are mostly of human origin, with the various strains differing in their features.
All LABs colonize mucosal surfaces, including the intestinal system. They promote vitamin production, natural protection from invading pathogens, and food digestion.
Bifidobacteria are one type of lactic acid producing bacteria. They are active in bile acid deconjugation, catabolism of dietary carbohydrates, and synthesis of vitamins.
Probiotics are used in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Scientific literature now suggests that IBS patients have an imbalance in their gastrointestinal flora.
This has been shown through classic microbiology studies using conventional plating techniques as well as molecular approaches.
Function studies in IBS patients have shown that IBS patients' flora produce an excessive amount of short-chain volatile fatty acids and hydrogen gas versus healthy controls. This points to the possiblity that there is some disturbance in the normal flora among IBS patients that accounts for their symptoms .
Recently, the concept of small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SBBO) has been proposed as a plausible explanation for IBS symptoms. There are several studies now that indicate that SBBO is much more common in IBS sufferers.
Several studies in scientific literature have explored the use of probiotic therapy for the alleviation of the symptoms of IBS. OMX Probiotics contains one of the strains of lactobacillus that is particularly effective in relieving symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.