This assignment will explore the condition Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Its definition, symptoms and causes will be examined, taking into account both the physical and psychological factors. The treatment of IBS will be explored, describing the conventional treatments used to manage the symptoms of IBS and in more detail the use and benefits of psychological interventions like hypnotherapy of which a variety of techniques can be used to manage symptoms and provide relief. A conclusion will form the final part of this assignment, summing up the reasons for and benefits of hypnotherapy as a treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Any scripts designed to be used to relieve and manage the various symptoms of IBS will be included in the appendices.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders of the digestive system. It is usually a disorder of the large intestine (colon), although other parts of the intestinal tract, even up to the stomach can be affected. The main functions of the colon include the absorption of water, dehydrating the contents to create a soft well-formed stool; and then movement of that stool to the point where it can evacuated from the body (Ross and Wilson 1990). This movement occurs by rhythmic contractions of the colon. When IBS occurs, the colon does not contract normally, instead it seems to contract in a disjointed and at times violent manner. The contractions may be exaggerated and continued, sometimes lasting for prolonged periods of time. One area of the colon may contract with no regard to another and at other times there may be little or no activity at all. These abnormal contractions result in changing bowel patterns with constipation being the most common. Symptoms vary between individuals, but the following are common symptoms of IBS: •
Abdominal pain and discomfort
Abdominal contractions, spasms or cramps
IBS sufferers may experience a combination of some of these symptoms, with one symptom in particular occurring more regularly or with greater severity. Symptoms vary from the mild, where they don't really affect someone's quality of life, to the serious, prompting the sufferer to seek medical help. IBS is known as a ‘syndrome’ as it is a cluster of symptoms without a specific identifiable cause. The organisation IBS Network estimates that it affects one third of people in the UK at some point and to some extent, and one in ten people have symptoms bad enough to visit their doctor, it is twice as common in women as in men (NHS 2010). IBS is often uncomfortable and distressing, but does not damage the bowel, or cause any more serious gut disorders.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, and as IBS sufferers usually have no physical abnormalities in the bowel, it has been suggested that there is a strong link between IBS and stress. Stress may not cause IBS but it can make symptoms worse, 50% of sufferers associate the onset of IBS with a stressful time in their life (Magowen 2011). With IBS, the nerves and muscles in the bowel are hyper-sensitive. The muscles may contract too much when you eat, causing diarrhoea, or the nerves may be overly sensitive to the bowel distending with food/stools after a meal, causing cramps. The bowel has a rich supply of nerves that are in communication with the brain, and it is thought that with IBS there is a disturbance in this interaction between the gut, the brain and the autonomic nervous system. As we know the brain and autonomic nervous system are directly affected by stress, it is so thought that this may have a knock on effect on the bowel, causing it to become irritated and over sensitive to stimuli, therefore for suffers of IBS the ordinary stress and strains of living somehow result in colon malfunction. As well as stress other...
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