Functional bowel syndrome

What Is Functional Bowel Syndrome?

Functional Bowel Syndrome (FBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. Symptoms tend to vary in severity and in the frequency of episodes. FBS is also known as irritable bowel syndrome, functional gastrointestinal disorder, spastic colon, or spastic colitis. This disorder is far more common than many people realize, impacting the lives of millions of individuals.

What Causes Functional Bowel Syndrome?

The exact cause of FBS is unknown, though there are several possible factors that may contribute to its development. These may include:

  • Abnormal motility or movement of the digestive tract
  • Imbalance in natural gut bacteria
  • Increased sensitivity of the gut leading to increased perception of pain and discomfort
  • Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Food intolerances or allergies

How is Functional Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of FBS may involve testing to exclude other potential medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial overgrowth, and celiac disease. Your doctor may suggest:

  • A physical examination
  • Blood work
  • Stool tests
  • Endoscopy or colonoscopy
  • Food allergy or intolerance testing

Treatment Options for Functional Bowel Syndrome

The main goal of FBS treatment is to reduce or relieve symptoms. Treatment options can include:

  • Making dietary and lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain triggers, eating smaller meals, getting regular exercise, managing stress, and taking probiotics
  • Prescription medications such as antispasmodics, antidiarrheals, antidepressants, and/or antianxiety drugs
  • Herbal supplements such as peppermint oil, chamomile, licorice, and artichoke extracts
  • Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy

Living with Functional Bowel Syndrome

Living with FBS can be challenging. It’s important to take an active role in managing your symptoms in order to get the best results:

  • Follow your treatment plan as directed and communicate any concerns with your doctor.
  • Keep a food journal to help track what foods you ate and how you felt afterward.
  • Get regular exercise to help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Take time to relax and practice stress-relieving techniques such as yoga and meditation.
  • Seek support from family and friends.