May cause indigestion, headache

Functional gastrointestinal diseases - irritable bowel syndrome

In Germany, over 12 million people suffer from so-called irritable bowel syndrome. It is usually a lengthy process until diagnosis, which can lead to those affected feeling not being taken seriously. The good news: once a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is made, the symptoms are easy to treat.

Where and how does the intestine push?

Specialists differentiate between three types of irritable bowel syndrome: Those affected either mainly suffer from diarrhea or constipation or both alternately.

Symptoms such as:

  • moderate to severe abdominal pain
  • a general malaise
  • Flatulence
  • Feeling of fullness after meals
  • Back and joint pain
  • a headache
  • frequent thin bowel movements
  • subsiding discomfort after defecation
  • a visible bloated stomach
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Feeling of incomplete defecation


If you have any other symptoms, such as sudden weight loss or blood in your stool, please contact your doctor immediately. These could be the first signs of a more serious bowel disease such as colon cancer.

Abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea

So far there is no research that can reliably prove irritable bowel syndrome. Your doctor will therefore make the diagnosis using an elimination process.

First, he asks you in detail about the course of your illness. Operations that have been carried out, your family history and emotional aspects can all play a role here. It is also important for him when your symptoms occur and how severe they are.

He then scans your entire abdominal cavity in order to localize the pain and determine any hardening.

The following examinations can also contribute to the diagnosis:

  • With the help of a Colonoscopy The doctor examines your colon from the inside and can identify pathological changes such as protrusions, so-called diverticula, or inflammation.
  • Means Ultrasonic he can check for changes in the gallbladder, liver and pancreas.
  • Whether there is inflammation in the body can vary Laboratory tests show, for example a blood or urine test.
  • If the results are negative, you can Food intolerance testsmilk sugar, for example.
  • In women are often additional gynecological examinations necessary to rule out diseases of the ovaries or uterus.
  • A Stool examination provides information about whether bacteria or intestinal parasites are causing the inflammation.
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life quality

Depending on how severe the irritable bowel syndrome is, it can have a significant impact on the quality of life of those affected.

For treatment, the doctor combines various measures and is guided by the main triggers:

  • If the symptoms occur primarily after eating, a Nutritional advice be useful. Here you can find out which foods put a strain on the digestive system and how to avoid them in the future.
  • Your doctor recommends that you rarely come to rest in everyday life Relaxation techniquesagainst stress, for example autogenic training. If there is psychological stress, a psychotherapy be useful. If the symptoms do not improve, the doctor can give you an easy one antidepressant prescribe.
  • Depending on the nature of the complaints can be short term Medication be used against diarrhea or constipation. Anticonvulsants or soluble fiber can help relax the abdomen and relieve pain. High-dose probiotics in capsule or powder form can support the intestinal immune system.

Patience and flexibility pay off

It can take four to six weeks for a noticeable improvement to occur. The therapy may have to be checked and adjusted again during this time.

Tips for a good gut feeling

In some of those affected, the irritable bowel syndrome disappears on its own after a while, others it accompanies it for a lifetime. With a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, you can do a lot for your gut yourself:

  • Foods rich in fiber and fiber, such as fresh vegetables, promote digestion. If whole grains aren't good for you, you can resort to flaxseed or psyllium husk. These harmonize digestion and counteract constipation and diarrhea.
  • To find out which foods are good for you, you can keep a food diary. You can then discuss the results with your doctor.
  • Take care of your bowels. Food such as cabbage vegetables, onions, legumes or even hot spices have a flatulence and can irritate the intestines.
  • Eat relaxed. Take your time and also make sure to chew each bite well. In this way you digest a large part of the food in your mouth and relieve the intestines.

Beware of certain irritable bowel diets

So far, there are no meaningful studies on certain irritable bowel diets such as the FODMAP diet, in which those affected do without so-called fermentable, i.e. fermentable, carbohydrates. The waiver should counteract gas and diarrhea. Since many important foods contain these carbohydrates, those affected run the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Therefore, the diet should only take place for about four to six weeks and be accompanied by a doctor.

  • To relax the intestines and abdominal muscles, you can gently massage your lower abdomen or use a hot water bottle.
  • Make sure you drink at least 2 liters of fluids a day to support healthy bowel function and prevent digestive problems.
  • Exercise, for example through endurance sports such as jogging or cycling. This gently gets the bowels going and is good for your muscles and soul. Special sports or relaxation courses are subsidized by the Techniker Krankenkasse up to twice a year.

Support for irritable bowel syndrome

You can find exchange and support here:

German Society for Combating Diseases of the Stomach, Intestines and Liver and Disorders of Metabolism and Nutrition (Gastro-Liga) e.V.
Friedrich-List-Strasse 13
35398 casting
Phone: 0641 974810
Email: [email protected]

German Nutrition Society
Godesberger Allee 18
53175 Bonn
Telephone: 0228 3776600
Email: [email protected]

German Irritable Bowel Self-Aid e.V.
P.O. Box 70 02 18
60552 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: 069 71377886
Email: [email protected]