Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects between 25-45 million people in the United States. Approximately 10-15% of adults in the world have IBS. It is possible for people with Pulmonary Fibrosis to also have IBS. Though it might seem difficult or embarrassing to talk about, we receive several emails and anonymous questions in our online group about symptoms such as gas, bloating, and incontinence. 

What is IBS? IBS is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain and a wide range of symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of both. IBS can also adversely impact people’s mood, causing anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges. Feeling anxious and stressed about any of these things can also worsen IBS symptoms. This is because IBS impacts gastrointestinal functioning. It is often called a “brain-gut” disorder because of the way that the brain, gut, and nervous system interact. 

There are over 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. Together, they are known as the enteric nervous system, or ENS. The ENS is designed to control many aspects of digestion – such as swallowing, releasing enzymes to break down food, control blood flow to absorb nutrients, and more. It communicates back and forth with your brain to assist with each step of this process. When the gastrointestinal system is experiencing irritation, however, it sends signals to your mind that trigger mood changes. These changes can be stressful, which can lead to more gastrointestinal irritation. Many people with IBS are familiar with this unpleasant cycle. 

What is the impact of IBS? For some people, IBS is a mild inconvenience. For others, it is severely debilitating physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, and more. Community members in our online group and support group have repeatedly shared that IBS noticeably impacts their quality of life. 

What are the symptoms of IBS? People with IBS may experience abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, a sense of gaseousness, and a change in bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation). Symptoms can vary. Only a medical professional can diagnose IBS. 

How is IBS treated? There is no cure for IBS, yet; however, there are ways to manage your symptoms and feel relief. This can include evaluating and improving your nutrition, trying natural therapies, and taking dietary supplements. For example, many people have reported improvements by eating foods that contain probiotics and by taking a probiotic supplement with their meal. Interestingly, because of the brain-gut connection, studies have shown that probiotics can help people with their IBS symptoms and their mental health! From increasing serotonin production to breaking down toxins, the numerous reported benefits could considerably improve a persons mood, digestion, and more. 

If you have PF and think you may also be experiencing IBS, please consult your team of health professionals to learn which treatments may be best for you.

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2 comments
  • Leslie Davis
    Posted on July 11, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    Are there specific serisl markers of inflammation that might be recommended, such CRP, IL6, etc for individuals who may be experiencing post C19 fibrotic remodeling?

    Can the systemic enzymes be safely taken for individuals on Eliquis (post C19 CVA)?

    Reply
    • PF NOW
      Posted on July 13, 2021 at 9:59 pm

      Hello Leslie, so sorry to hear that you or someone you know is experiencing post COVID fibrosis. CRP, IL-6 and other such tests are non-specific markers of inflammation. This means that their levels can be increased due to inflammation anywhere in your body and not specifically lungs. Fibrosis in your lungs can be seen on either an x-ray or a high resolution CT scan. We have a lot of information and tips on how you can check for, manage and control inflammation in your body. I am sharing some relevant articles with you: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/2021/07/10/monitoring-inflammation-in-your-body/ and https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/2021/07/11/natural-ways-to-reduce-inflammation-for-people-with-pf/ Please let us know if you’d like to learn more.
      To answer your question, systemic enzymes, particularly Nattokinase, are not recommended for people who are on blood thinners like Eliquis since they have a blood thinning effect too and taking both together can increase your risk for bleeding. We recommend you consult with your doctor about how long you need to be on Eliquis. We have an ongoing research study looking at the effect of systemic enzyme supplements on lung fibrosis in patients with PF to determine if they help reduce the fibrin built up in the lungs. We expect the study to be completed early next year and will share our results when published.

      Reply

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