Tuesday 17 July 2012

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you  are very aware of the emotional and physical aspects of the condition. Everyone suffers the odd upset stomach, but for  10-20 % of the population this is a regular experience of painful  abdominal spasms, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation that go with the condition. It also means that you may live with the limitations, inconvenience, and often embarrassment that result.

IBS is a sporadic and unpredictable disruption of the digestive system. Doctors are not exactly certain what causes IBS, however it occurs when the nerves and muscles of the lower bowel area are not working the way they should. IBS can affect anyone at any time in their lives, however it typically starts during late teenage years and most often affects people between 20 and 30 years of age.
It is twice as common in women as in men. Recent trends indicate that it is also now more present in older age groups.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends the healthcare professionals should consider assessment for IBS if the person reports having had any of the below symptoms for at least 6 months. Symptoms can vary in type, frequency and severity and sometimes overlap with other gastrointestinal disorders such as non-ulcer dyspepsia or coeliac disease, but they can include;

Abdominal pain or cramps
Change in bowel movements –diarrhoea, constipation or both

Other features such as lethargy, nausea, backache and bladder symptoms are common and may be used to support the diagnosis.

Conventional treatment includes dietary, lifestyle and physical activity advice as well as medication to target symptoms.

Food and Drink; Keeping a food diary to record what you have been eating and how your body reacts can help you spot problems and prepare a diet that helps to control your symptoms.

Some of the food groups most commonly known to trigger IBS symptoms include:
  • Wheat Products
  • Dairy Products
  • Onions
  • Caffeine-containing drinks like tea, coffee, and cola
  • Chocolate
Stress and Anxiety; Stress can show itself in many different ways. It can be both healthy and unhealthy. Small amount of stress can help us stay motivated, however when stress exceeds our levels to deal with it, either as a result of sudden chance in circumstance or after slow build-up, it can lead to various health issues.

The immediate physical reactions to stress may be sweating, breathlessness, increased blood pressure, insomnia, diarrhoea, palpitations. Mental chances can include anxious and negative thoughts, low levels of energy.  While stress and anxiety do not directly cause IBS, over a long period these can contribute into development of gastrointestinal problems and can certainly trigger the symptoms of IBS.

There are many different ways to tackle stress. Keeping a diary of your feelings of stress and anxiety can help you being able to recognise stress, situations that cause stress and the feelings of stress that trigger a potential attack of IBS.

Hypnotherapy is particularly good for treating stress and anxiety through deep relaxation of the body and mind and by teaching on subconscious level how to prevent stress, build stamina and how take care of oneself.

How can Hypnotherapy help?

As with any medical condition you should always see your GP first to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. If you have already been diagnosed with IBS and conventional treatment has not helped, hypnotherapy can help you to manage IBS. Both the British Medical Association (BMA) and The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) specifically recommend hypnotherapy as a treatment option for IBS sufferers.

Hypnotherapy is an effective way to help to manage IBS through the power of the unconscious mind. The sessions we run here at Enable Potential include:
  • Relaxation and stress management
  • Understanding when symptoms started and dealing with contributing issues
  • Dealing with triggers and promotion of physical and emotional healing.
  • Management of symptoms whenever they occur, using self-hypnosis and pain management techniques
  • Rebuilding confidence and self-esteem.
In general, most people start to experience positive changes (physical, mental and emotional) from the first hypnotherapy session.  BMA recommends 10 sessions for successful treatment, however we at Enable Potential have found that fewer sessions are effective, especially when supported by self-hypnosis recordings.
As each person is unique, it would be wrong to state the exact number of sessions needed, but typically you should see significant improvements in symptoms and management of symptoms after initial 2-3 sessions. At Enable Potential we aim to help you with as few sessions as possible.