Archive for March, 2007

How Does Menopause Affect IBS?

Posted in Health & Fitness on March 30th, 2007

Did you know that women are more likely to develop IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) than men? It’s true, and many believe this is because of the different hormones that the female body produces throughout the monthly menstrual cycle. So what happens when menopause begins?

Once this period of life begins, the hormones that are produced by the body change, and so will the problems you have with IBS and the related symptoms. If you consider the way hormones work through a woman’s fertile years, you might understand how the hormonal changes of menopause affect IBS.

Irritable bowel affects up to fifteen percent of the population of the United States, and it is estimated that 70-75 percent of patients are female. Those with this condition suffer from bouts of cramping, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. This is something that is usually diagnosed before age 50, and some go through life dealing with it, but not realizing that they have a medical condition. There is no real cure for IBS, but there are a number of lifestyle changes and medications that seem to help some patients.

The symptoms and flare ups of IBS tend to be worse for all women when they are having their period. Fluctuating hormones seem to be the culprit, with the rise in progesterone during this time being one of the more influential triggers. This means that a woman with IBS will have far more trouble symptoms and bouts of bloating, diarrhea, and cramping. Because of this, not only do more women get IBS than men, it also means that they are going to have a harder time dealing with it.

Pregnancy can bring about a whole new set of problems for those women with IBS as well. Pregnancy will do many things to a women’s body, and what will happen with IBS seems to be different for every women. Hormones start raging through the body, and many of these are the same or are much like the ones related to menses. For some women, their IBS is much more under control while they are expecting, and for others, the opposite is true.

The good news is that the hormones that are associated with IBS flare-ups will subside substantially when menopause happens. Women with IBS can expect they will begin to feel much better, and their symptoms will be more comparable to men with the condition. Women with IBS generally begin to feel better around age 50 to 55, depending on when they go through menopause. They may notice a sudden improvement when menopause begins, or it may take a while for symptoms to slow down. It is important to remember that while going through menopause, the fluctuations of hormones can be dramatic. This might make IBS worse for a time, but it should pass. Either way, this is a time when a woman can expect to gain some relief from her IBS symptoms at least.

Grab your free copy of Susan Reynolds’ brand new IBS Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to treat IBS & help you find out about IBS recipe and for information on IBS symptom please visit Irritable Bowel Syndrome Relief Secrets

Endometriosis And Interstitial Cystitis

Posted in Health & Fitness on March 28th, 2007

Endometriosis and interstitial cystitis (IC) have similar symptoms, making it easy for one to be mistaken for the other.  In fact, sometimes women who have endometriosis and undergo a hysterectomy mistaken the pain they experience in their pelvic region following the procedure as a return of their endometriosis, when in actuality it could be caused by interstitial cystitis.

What is interstitial cystitis?  Interstitial cystitis (pronounced “In-ter-stish-ul       sis-ty-tis”), also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome, is a chronic medical condition that is characterized by inflammation of the bladder.  This inflammation is believed to occur when the mucous layer inside the bladder is damaged.  The damaged mucous layer lets irritating substances, especially urine, come in direct contact with the bladder wall.  These substances aggravate the bladder, resulting in inflammation and pain.

It is obvious by the above characteristics of IC that endometriosis and interstitial cystitis are clearly not the same condition, and, therefore, require different treatment.  Unfortunately, diagnosis isn’t as easy as one would think because the symptoms of IC closely mirror endometriosis, as the following will illustrate:

Endometriosis symptoms-
• Pelvic pain
• Pain in lower back
• Painful menses - pain before and/or during and/or after menstruation
• Severe menstrual cramping
• Pain during intercourse
• Pain during orgasm
• Heavy menses
• Irregular menses
• Painful bowel movements usually accompanied by an alteration between constipation and diarrhea
• Gastrointestinal upset including bloating, nausea and vomiting
• Bladder pain
• Frequent need to urinate
• Fatigue

Interstitial cystitis symptoms -
• Pelvic pain
• Pain in lower back
• Pain during intercourse
• Pain after intercourse
• Painful menses
• Heavy menses
• Painful bowel movement during menses
• Slight discomfort, tenderness, pressure or pain in the bladder or pelvic area
• Urgent need to urinate
• Frequent need to urinate
• Fatigue

The above symptoms that have been italicised for endometriosis and interstitial cystitis are the same.  Although some symptoms differ, you can see how many symptoms are similar between the two.  Thus is why IC has been nicknamed endometriosis “evil twin”.

To make matters even worse for some women, it isn’t uncommon for a woman to suffer from both endometriosis and IC.  In fact, one study involving 60 women found that more than 79% of these women had both interstitial cystitis and endometriosis at the same time.  In some cases, this is often why women still experience pain after they have endometrial tissue removed or why some find their endometriosis hard to treat.  The pain they are experiencing is similar to endometriosis but is actually caused by IC.

Therefore, if you have endometriosis and continue to have pain despite the treatments you’ve tried, perhaps it’s time to ask your doctor to further investigate your pain to find out if endometriosis is actually the cause of your problem, or if it’s something else like interstitial cystitis. 

If you suspect your may have endometriosis and interstitial cystitis you need to tell your doctor about your suspicions.  However, before you jump to conclusions, and before you attend your appointment, it’s a good idea to make a record of the symptoms you are experiencing.  Write down the symptoms you experience in one week and present these symptoms to your doctor so he/she can help provide you with better tests for a more effective diagnosis and treatment course.

Keep in mind, if you suspect you have IC the symptoms you need to focus on include:
• Urgency and frequency of urination
• Fluctuation of pain as the bladder empties or fills
• Pelvic or bladder pain that intensifies during menstruation

In addition, if you want an accurate IC diagnosis you may want to request that your doctor refer you to a gynaecologist or urologist.  Finally, remember that while both endometriosis and interstitial cystitis are chronic conditions, they are treatable when effectively diagnosed.

Grab your free copy of Shelley Ross’ brand new Endometriosis Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about endometriosis treatment and for information on endometriosis symptoms please visit Treating Your Endometriosis

Is Your Frenzied Lifestyle the Cause of Heartburn?

Posted in Health & Fitness on March 19th, 2007

Although taking the right herbs can limit the cause of heartburn, some will need more than herbal remedies to control acid reflux, especially if a person leads a hectic lifestyle.  This is because there are often many elements to a busy persons lifestyle that encourages acid reflux and heartburn.

What aspects can be the cause of heartburn in a hectic lifestyle?

Poor eating habits – There are different elements that contribute to poor eating habits.  The first is eating a diet rich in foods that have a direct link to acid reflux (I.E. fatty foods, pre-packaged foods high in additives and preservatives, alcohol, coffee, tea. Etc.).  Unfortunately, many of these foods make up the regular diet of those leading a hectic lifestyle.

To make matters worse, those that are controlled by their busy schedule tend to –
- Skip meals
- Eat at irregular times
- Ingest larger portions when they do eat
- Rush down their food
- Are physically active after eating

Each of these poor eating habits can be hard on your stomach.  For instance, eating large portions creates a distended stomach that is full of food.  This places pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).  This pressure can result in stomach acid traveling back into the esophagus creating acid reflux, which can be the cause of heartburn.

Tobacco use – Tobacco can make acid reflux a more prominent problem.  Nicotine is deposited in the back of the throat and can corrode the esophageal lining.  Furthermore, tobacco also inhibits saliva production.  Saliva is one of the body’s natural defenses against damage to the esophageal lining. 

Poor sleeping habits – Lack of sleep can increase stress, and leads to the use of more caffeine stimulants such as tea, coffee and soda, which can increase the risk of acid reflux.  In addition, eating before bed slows digestion.  Other sleeping habits that can be the cause of heartburn includes sleeping without the proper elevation of your head (less than 6 inches) and lying on your back or stomach. 

Stress – Although stress does not directly cause acid reflux it encourages the condition.  The reason is because stress triggers bad habits such as eating fatty “comfort foods”, smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating late at night. Moreover, stress has been known to increase pain sensitivity.

Medications – There are a number of medications that can affect the LES and be the direct cause of heartburn.  Some of these medications include –
- Tricyclic antidepressants - I.E. amitriptvlline
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – I.E. aspirin, ibuprofen
- Sedatives and muscle relaxants
To add insult to injury, not only can these drugs aggravate the esophageal lining, many people ingest them without drinking a full glass of water or lie down directly after.  These actions can increase acid reflux risk.  Additionally, repeatedly taking antacids to cure your heartburn can lead to negative side effects including headaches and stomach distress (I.E. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation).

Here are three ways you can effectively reduce the recurrence of acid reflux in your hectic lifestyle -

1. Control your diet and don’t rush through meals – Instead of skipping meals, eating out, or making pre-packaged dinners, consider eating small portions throughout the day.  Make the time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and don’t rush through your food.  Also, give yourself 20 minutes after you eat to digest.  Drinking water can also help aid in digestion.

2. Give up bad habits – If you smoke, regularly drink alcohol, drink excessive amounts of carbonated beverages or those that contain caffeine, it’s time to cut back or avoid these practices completely.

3. Reduce stress – Engage in regular low impact exercise such as walking, swimming and bike riding.  Make sure you get a goodnight sleep and take the time to enjoy activities you like. 

Despite how hectic your life may be, it is imperative that you make an effort to reduce the elements in your lifestyle that can be the cause of heartburn.
For more great tips on reducing heartburn naturally sign up for the free newsletter, which looks at the many and varied cause of heartburn possibilities. On the site you’ll also find more about the different kinds of acid reflux treatments and whether an acid reflux diet will help.

10 Tips for Self Healing of Colitis and Crohns

Posted in Health & Fitness on March 8th, 2007

There are different ways you can promote self healing colitis and crohns if you suffer from either of these inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Self healing remedies, which are essentially non-drug alternative treatments, are the preferred choice of treatment for many IBD sufferers because most of these remedies are free of negative side effects and encourage the body to heal itself.

The following are 10 self healing colitis and crohns methods you can look into –

1. Diet – Many IBD symptoms are triggered by food products. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create a food diary and eliminate the foods that aggravate your condition (I.E. fat, sugar, acid foods) and increase those that lower the risk (I.E. most fruits, vegetables, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids). Talk to a dietician or your doctor about good food choices and to start a diet plan that works for you.

2. Herbal remedies – There are many herbal remedies for self healing colitis and crohns treatments. Herbs from plant have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes including treating gastrointestinal disorders such as crohns and colitis. Popular herbal remedies that may be used as treatment for inflammation include: cat’s claw, green tea, ginkgo, slippery elm, wild indigo, etc. Herbs may be taken as supplements, added to recipes, in tea, or eaten whole, depending on the herb. It’s in your best interest to talk with a professional herbalist.

3. Acupuncture – Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into specific acupoints in the body to help bring balance back to the body. Acupuncture can help treat painful symptoms as well as, diarrhea and constipation. This treatment should be sought from a professional acupuncturist.

4. Hypnosis – Known as body/mind medicine, this form of self healing colitis and crohns is a treatment that helps to increase relaxation, improve immune function, decrease stress and ease feelings of anxiety. Hypnosis improves conditions by allowing a patient to use their subconscious to gain control over their symptoms. Hypnosis should be sought from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

5. Homeopathy – This is a type of treatment that focuses on treating individuals as a whole. The course of treatment is determined after a person’s physical, psychological and emotional makeup is studied. This form of treatment is given by a homeopath.

6. Naturopathy – Naturopathy treats a person as a whole - mind, body and spirit. Naturopathy does not treat the illness, and promotes self-healing by determining what lifestyle changes a person needs in order to achieve and maintain good health. Many alternative treatments may be recommended including acupuncture, homeopathy, massage therapy, herbs, etc.

7. Probiotics – Some research has found that probiotics, also known as good gut bacteria (I.E. lactobacillus) can improve the symptoms of crohns and colitis. By providing the stomach with beneficial bacteria it helps to keep other “bad” bacteria under control and bring more balance to the gut flora.

8. Reduce Stress – Anxiety and stress have been shown to trigger and worsen symptoms related to IBD. Therefore, part of a good self healing colitis and crohns treatment plan is to make sure you find ways to reduce stress. Stress can be reduced through meditation exercises such as Yoga and Tai Chi, and massage therapy.

9. Reduce bad habits – If you have bad habits such as smoking, overeating, and drinking alcohol, it is imperative you put a stop to these habits right away to avoid triggering and worsening symptoms.

10. Joining a support group –Suffering from crohn’s and ulcerative colitis can be difficult and embarrassing to live with. It helps to talk with people who understand your physical and emotional conditions. Treating emotional and psychological symptoms of IBD helps to reduce stress and is an important part of the self healing process.

Despite which self healing colitis and crohns remedies interest you, make sure you consult with your doctor before starting any treatment. It is important to first obtain his/her advice, and it is a good idea to allow your doctor to monitor your condition to see how you respond to self healing treatments.
Part of the problem with conditions such as crohns and colitis is that vitamin absorption can be limited. Increasing the amount of vitamins your body absorbs can help with self healing colitis and crohns disease.

By Sharon Dobson. Sign up for a free newsletter that has proven methods for managing Crohn’s Disease naturally at Natural Crohn’s Disease Relief. On the site you’ll also find more about crohns relaxation and information on ways to encourage self healing colitis and crohns.