WHAT IS AN OSTOMY?
What Is An Ostomy?
An ostomy is a surgically created opening connecting an internal organ to the surface of the body. Different kinds of ostomies are named for the organ involved. The most common types of ostomies in intestinal surgery are an “ileostomy” (connecting the ileal part of the small intestine to the abdominal wall) and a “colostomy” (connecting the colon, or, large intestine to the abdominal wall).
An ostomy may be temporary or permanent. A temporary ostomy may be required if the intestinal tract can’t be properly prepared for surgery because of blockage by disease or scar tissue. A temporary ostomy may also be created to allow inflammation or an operative site to heal without contamination by stool. Temporary ostomies can usually be reversed with minimal or no loss of intestinal function. A permanent ostomy may be required when disease, or its treatment, impairs normal intestinal function, or when the muscles that control elimination do not work properly or require removal. The most common causes of these conditions are low rectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
WHAT ROLE DOES STRESS PLAY IN IBS?
IBS is not caused by stress. It is not a psychological or psychiatric disorder, however emotional stress may contribute to IBS. Many people may experience nausea or diarrhea when nervous or anxious. While we may not be able to control the effect stress has on our intestines, reducing the sources of stress in our lives may help to alleviate the symptoms of IBS.
HOW CAN I TELL IF THE PROBLEM IS IBS OR SOMETHING ELSE?
A careful medical history and physical examination by a colon and rectal surgeon or other physician are essential to exclude more serious disorders. Tests may include blood tests, stool tests, visual inspection of the inside of the colon with flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, and x-ray studies. Fever, anemia, rectal bleeding and unexplained weight loss are not symptoms of IBS and need to be evaluated by your physician.
HOW IS IBS TREATED?
Understanding that IBS is not a serious or life-threatening condition may relieve anxiety and stress, which often contribute to the problem. Stress reduction, use of behavioral therapy, biofeedback, relaxation or pain management techniques can help relieve the symptoms of IBS in some individuals. Use of a diary may help to identify certain foods or other factors that cause symptoms.
Mild to moderate symptoms can often be managed by dietary changes. Your physician may recommend avoiding meals that are too large or high in fatty or fried foods. Caffeine or alcohol may also cause cramps or diarrhea. Some types of sugar, such as sorbitol commonly used as a low-calorie sweetener and fructose, found naturally in honey and some fruits may be poorly absorbed by the gut and cause cramping and diarrhea. Gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and onions may cause bloating and increased discomfort in people with IBS.
Increasing dietary fiber may help to improve IBS symptoms. Soluble fiber such as that found in citrus fruits, flaxseeds and legumes may help soften stool and lessen the severity of cramps. Insoluble fiber such as cellulose, cereals and bran can absorb water as it moves through the digestive tract and lessen diarrhea. In some people too much fiber can cause discomfort. Adding fiber to the diet gradually with adequate amounts of liquids may eliminate the discomfort.
Individuals with moderate to severe IBS may benefit from prescribed medication. Medications can help to control the symptoms of IBS but they do not cure the condition. Medications act directly on the intestinal muscles to help the contractions return to normal. Antidepressants in low doses have been shown to be helpful in some with IBS.
HOW LONG DOES THE TREATMENT TAKE TO RELIEVE SYMPTOMS?
Relief of IBS Symptoms is often a slow process. It may take six months or more for definite improvement to be appreciated. Patience is extremely important in dealing with this problem.
The tendency for the intestine to respond to stress will always be present. With attention to proper diet and in some cases, use of appropriate medications, the symptoms of IBS can be greatly improved or eliminated.
CAN IBS LEAD TO MORE SERIOUS PROBLEMS?
IBS does not cause cancer, bleeding or inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis.