Irritable Bowel Syndrome: when stress, worries and unhealthy eating habits affect the intestines

by | 30. August 2019

It’s familiar to us all: an important or unpleasant appointment is coming up, or perhaps there’s no time to eat in peace in the office because there’s just too much work. Before we know it, our intestines start to respond with abdominal pain, flatulence or irregular bowel movements, whether in the form of constipation or diarrhoea. If this happens again and again, the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is very common.


What is irritable bowel syndrome and what are the typical symptoms?

Irritable bowel syndrome often manifests itself in the form of abdominal cramps, flatulence, bloating, a feeling of fullness, and recurring diarrhoea, constipation, or both alternately. Another sign of irritable bowel syndrome may be a repeated feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowels. However, the symptoms can vary considerably from patient to patient and also change over time. For this reason, it is important to talk to a doctor.


Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in our clinic

In the Alpstein Clinic, we support many patients with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Since there is no test to provide a clear diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, we carry out a number of examinations to exclude other bowel diseases.

It is not uncommon for patients to have previously undergone numerous examinations, such as ultrasound of the abdomen, or gastroscopy and colonoscopy, all of which have been unable to produce a clear picture, and have left their symptoms unremedied.

With special stool or blood tests for food intolerances, we have often been able to go one step further.


A stool examination can provide important information

Stool diagnostics and testing for food intolerances play a decisive role in the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. It is often only possible to offer the patient optimal help when the intestine is receiving the correct therapeutic support and the patient’s diet is changed following the testing.

The following parameters are measured in the stool examination:

  • The physiological bacterial flora, to provide information as to whether certain intestinal bacteria are present and occur in sufficient quantities.
  • Digestive residues, which, if detected in the stool, can mean that food components in the intestine are not being digested effectively. As a consequence, the body is not getting a sufficient supply of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
  • Pancreatic enzymes, measured to detect whether they are excreted too little with the stool. If this is the case, the body is unable to break down dietary fats optimally and more fats are excreted in the stool.
  • Any disturbance of the barrier function of the intestinal mucosa, which can lead to chronic inflammations, such as Crohn’s disease.
  • Whether the inflammatory values in the stool are increased. This is the case in acute bacterial infections or chronic inflammatory bowel disease, but not in irritable bowel syndrome.
  • If the presence of the protein zonulin is elevated in the stool, this is evidence of Leaky-gut syndrome, which means an increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa, leading to an underlying inflammation, and playing an important role in numerous diseases.

All these values show the great importance of a comprehensive stool analysis.