Alcohol and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) do not go well together. It has been reported that alcoholic drinks aggravate the condition of IBS patients.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a painful disorder of the large intestine (colon). In this condition, the intestine loses its ability to function properly. In IBS, food either moves too slowly or too fast through the intestine. When the contents inside the intestine move slowly, it often leads to constipation. When the ingested food moves fast, the intestine is unable to absorb any fluids. As a result, too much fluid is found in the stool (diarrhea).
Consumption of alcohol, milk products, carbonated drinks, and fatty foods can worsen symptoms of IBS. People diagnosed with IBS especially, should not drink alcohol as it is a GI (gastrointestinal) irritant. Alcohol is a major factor responsible for worsening of IBS symptoms. Alcoholic drinks such as wine or beer pose a threat for IBS patients. Complications may develop if drinking is continued and may even trigger an IBS attack.
People with IBS have sensitive bowels that simply cannot tolerate alcohol consumption. The irritation due to alcohol intake can trigger intestinal spasms and worsen this inflammatory condition of bowels. The initial mood enhancing feeling of drinking alcohol may be followed by days of debilitating abdominal pain and diarrhea. So, if you are complaining about IBS, alcohol can make it agonizingly painful.
IBS, also known as functional bowel syndrome, is diagnosed more in women than men. Although, IBS causes pain and discomfort, the disease does not permanently damage the intestine. People suffering from IBS have problems with their bowel movement, but they do not show any signs of intestinal bleeding. 20 percent of adult population in United States show symptoms of IBS. In rare cases, IBS disrupts the normal routine of the affected people. They experience pain while walking and cannot travel even short distances. A recent study shows that IBS starts before the age of 35, in around 50 percent of the people.
Common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain and discomfort, while eliminating stools. In some cases, symptoms subside and return after a few months; while, in other cases, symptoms worsen over time. The symptoms are as follows:
- Cramps during bowel movement.
- Bloating (swelling of the abdomen)
- Constipation or infrequent bowel movements.
- Stools look different; they are either ribbony or watery and may contain mucus.
- Uncontrollable urgency to go to the toilet several times, especially after lunch and breakfast.
Doctors are still not able to trace the causes of this bowel condition. Researchers believe that a bacterial infection in the intestinal tract may lead to IBS. If the intestine is sensitive to certain foods, it can damage the colon giving rise to IBS. A weakened immune system vulnerable to viral infections may also lead to IBS.
The doctors may perform stool sample tests to diagnose this intestinal problem. IBS can also be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms, like how often the person experiences abdominal pain and how the stool consistency has changed. Another method is colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy that allows the doctor to get the images of the large intestine. As these images give an inside view of the colon, a correct diagnosis is possible.
Medications can relieve symptoms of IBS considerably. The doctors may advice patients to include fiber supplements in their diet. Medicines like loperamide or lomotil are often prescribed to decrease diarrhea. Doctors often suggest an antispasmodic to reduce abdominal pain and intestinal spasms. People who do not respond to conventional therapy are treated with alosetron hydrochloride (Lotronex). This medicine is specifically recommended for people with severe IBS.
On the whole, following a healthy diet, avoiding problem foods, particularly alcohol is necessary to manage this condition effectively.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.