Irritable bowel: how to protect yourself

Irritable bowel: how to protect yourself

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Irritable bowel syndrome: This is how calmness finally returns to the stomach

According to health experts, around twelve million people in Germany suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Since the symptoms of irritable bowel manifest themselves differently in each patient, the therapy also differs. Experts explain how the complaints can be treated and how to prevent them.

One of the most common gastrointestinal diseases

The so-called irritable bowel is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases in Germany. According to estimates by the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS), around twelve million Germans are affected. The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are very non-specific and manifest themselves differently in each patient. Those affected should always have these complaints clarified by a doctor. The health insurance company DAK Gesundheit explains on its website how to recognize an irritable bowel, treat it and prevent it.

Many different symptoms

As the professional association of German internists (BDI) explains on its website "Internists online", irritable bowel syndrome can trigger many different symptoms.

“Most often, patients complain of indefinite abdominal pain and a feeling of being unwell. But irregular stools with constipation or diarrhea as well as flatulence and a feeling of fullness are also typical, ”writes the BDI.

In addition, many sufferers suffer from back, joint and headaches.

According to the DAK, psychological stress often arises in connection with physical symptoms: patients withdraw from social life because they are ashamed of their digestive problems and do not want others to notice it.

In addition, many sufferers only feel safe when there is a toilet nearby - and therefore reject various activities.

Impaired bowel movement

According to the health insurance company, the cause of an irritable bowel is an impaired bowel movement and hypersensitivity of the intestinal mucosa.

In addition, some sufferers have a particularly low pain threshold in the intestine. Another important factor that seems to contribute to the development of the disease is psychological stress such as anxiety, constant stress or grief.

In many cases, it is a combination of these physical and mental complaints that leads to the irritable bowel.

Diagnosis through the exclusion process

As the DAK Gesundheit explains, the irritable bowel diagnosis is carried out using the elimination procedure. In the first step, the abdomen is scanned externally by the doctor, ideally a gastroenterologist, in order to detect any hardening and pain spots.

The doctor can also use an ultrasound examination to determine whether the symptoms originate from the liver or bile.

An additional blood test can provide information about whether there are inflammations in the body.

If all of these procedures are unsuccessful, doctors advise colonoscopy. If there are no detectable changes in the intestine during this examination, there is most likely an irritable bowel.

Treatment depends on the severity and cause of the symptoms

Treatment is primarily based on the severity and cause of the symptoms. Mild complaints can often be alleviated with a change in diet.

A food diary helps to find out which foods are particularly difficult to digest. Most irritable bowel patients have problems with flatulent vegetables such as cabbage, beans and onions.

Even people who suffer from permanent stress are sometimes affected by an irritable bowel.

Here, among other things, participation in courses for better stress management can help.

In some cases, the gastroenterologist also prescribes appropriate medication for the patient's particular complaints - such as a light laxative or a medication for diarrhea.

However, neither should be taken permanently, as otherwise there is a risk of side effects.

How to prevent

Even if the development of an irritable bowel cannot always be influenced, it can help to pay attention to a digestive-friendly everyday life. DAK Gesundheit explains how:

  • Drink still water instead of sparkling water.
  • Replace coffee with herbal tea as often as possible.
  • Exercise several times a week.
  • Sleep at least seven to eight hours a night.
  • Relieve stress - yoga or autogenic training are just two of the many options.
  • Cook fresh - ready meals contain additives and sugar.
  • Have several small meals instead of a few large ones.
  • Only consume fiber in moderation! Everything else overwhelms sensitive digestion.

Finally, the health insurance company has a few tips that will help you do something good for your gut:

Warmth, such as from a hot bath or hot water bottle, has an antispasmodic and analgesic effect.

Abdominal self-massages relax and ensure well-being.

Tea with chamomile or fennel calms the gastrointestinal area.

A tablespoon of flaxseed (for example in yoghurt) gets your digestion going. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • DAK Gesundheit: Irritable bowel - This is how calmness returns to the stomach, (accessed: 10.08.2019), DAK Gesundheit
  • Professional Association of German Internists (BDI): SYMPTOMS OF THE RICE BOWEL, (accessed: 10.08.2019), internists on the net

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