Alleviating Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Seniors

By April 18, 2016Healthy Aging
Pensive older man sitting

The term “IBS” stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It’s a diagnosis for symptoms affecting the gut without the presence of any detectable disease. Technically, it’s a functional disorder of the body. IBS can cause many, varied symptoms in seniors and it can be hard to tell determine its causes. LivHOME can help by providing home care that will keep a close eye on a senior’s diet, and as well as their stress and anxiety levels.

Here are five ways that LivHOME professionals reduce IBS in seniors:

Causes.
There is no one specific cause for IBS. Studies have shown patterns of the condition occurring in families, or among those who are highly stressed. Common symptoms include excessive burping, loud, and constant sounds from the stomach, and bloating. Important to note is what isn’t common with IBS, such as blood in the stool, vomiting, or excessive weight loss. These are warning signs of other conditions.

Know who’s at risk.
In broad terms, IBS is twice as common in women as it is in men. It also happens to be more common in Caucasians. However, IBS can affect anyone who is under constant high stress. It can also be caused by certain diets. That isn’t to say that junk food is to blame for IBS but it probably wouldn’t hurt to eat more fruits and vegetables anyway. Typically, IBS is not seen in people under the age of 50; although IBS can break this assumption too!

Understand the diagnosis.
To determine whether a senior has IBS, they will have to undergo physical exams, tests, and discuss their medical history with their physician. IBS may not be diagnosed on the first test, which is why it is important to undergo a complete battery of tests. IBS can be easily misdiagnosed, and a senior may instead be suffering from colitis, or spastic bowel. It’s just as important to rule out serious GI conditions as it is to accurately diagnose IBS.

Treatment.
Because the symptoms repeat at irregular junctures, treatment should match the flair ups of IBS. Stress is known to be a cause of IBS, therefore a senior should take steps to reduce stress in their lives. Eating a diet low in fat but high in carbs and fiber can help, as will fiber supplements. Of course talking to a doctor will provide a much clearer, personalized treatment for something as variable as IBS.

Know why it’s important.
If IBS is not detected as early as possible, the ensuing complications could bring about much more dangerous conditions in the body. Being aware of the signals the body is sending is vital, because whereas the condition may have been diagnosed as IBS at one point, it may have actually been the beginning of a more serious, “hidden” disorder, such as colorectal cancer.

Remember that annual checkups can lead to the early detection and treatment of numerous conditions, including IBS, improving health and well-being of seniors. LivHOME supports family members by accompanying seniors to their physician appointments.

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