Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) vs. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

stomach-1051854_960_720Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are two common disorders of the digestive system. These disorders affect as many as 5 million Canadians, with approximately 120,000 individuals in Canada being diagnosed with IBS every year. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS diagnoses in the world today. While the symptoms of IBS and IBD are very similar, it is important to understand that the two are not the same condition and they have contrasting treatment regimens.

Unlike IBD, IBS is considered to be the lesser evil of the two. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the fact that while IBD is an indicator for other gastro-related illnesses and causes the intestines to become inflamed, IBS does not. IBS can, however, cause profuse discomfort and anguish, with symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation – oftentimes alternating. These symptoms can range from being mild to severe, and they can disturb one’s self-image, ability to work, and overall quality of life. Individuals with IBS generally do not show any signs of any severe disease when examined, so a diagnosis is almost always dependent on the symptoms presented by the patient to their physician. Common complaints and symptoms of IBS that Dr. Ali Ghahary sees in patients include bloating, gassiness, nausea, and the inability to move the bowels despite urgency. IBS can be caused by certain medications, dietary changes, hormonal changes and stress. Treatment includes antidiarrheal medications, fiber supplements, and stress relief.

IBD, on the other hand, affects 1 in every 150 Canadians, and can be a direct cause of severe gastrointestinal diseases known as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease – both of which are accompanied by inflammation of the bowel. Symptoms of IBD include weight loss, chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. In severe cases, low-grade fevers and bloody stools may also be present. These are red flags that should not be ignored. IBD is diagnosed with blood tests, stool tests, CT scans or endoscopes, and is commonly treated with several types of medications: Aminosalicylates (to help control inflammation), Antibiotics (to help those who may develop an infection known as C. Difficile), Corticosteroids (to treat sudden onset of IBD-related flare-ups), Immunomodulators (to quiet the immune system and reduce inflammation), and biologic therapies (to block proteins that may produce inflammation.)

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Senior Health

hand-588982_960_720With Canadians living longer, it is also important to note of the potential health risks that come with aging. As such, Health Canada is continuously researching ways to recognize the ongoing needs of seniors in Canada.

Some important principles that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends for his patients are healthy eating, injury prevention, good oral hygiene, physical activity and smoking cessation; all of which are especially crucial for the well being of seniors in Canada today. Below we will take a slightly closer look at some of the foundations of these principles and the important roles that they play in helping seniors live healthier, happier lives.

fruits-155616_960_720Good nutrition, in particular, is relevant not only for your overall health, but also for seniors to maintain good balance, strength and resistance as they age, with the Canadian Food Guide recommending that all adults ages 51 and older eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, 6 to 7 services of grain products (bread, quinoa, cereal, cooked pasta) per day, up to 3 servings of milk/alternatives (fortified soy beverages, yogurt, cheese) per day, and 2 to 3 services of meat/alternatives (cooked fish, shellfish, poultry, lean meats, tofu, eggs, peanut butter, nuts and seeds) per day.

Up to 30% of seniors experience at least one fall every year, which are the dominant cause of injuries to seniors, and 85% of those falls requiring hospitalization. Common causes of falls amongst seniors include poor balance, usually due to declining muscle and bone strength, diminishing vision or hearing loss, and unsafe conditions in the home. It is important to take preventative measures in and around the home to avoid injury. This can be done by adding non-slip surfaces to the bathroom, eliminating clutter, installing good lighting in the home, having well-lit walkways and stairways, and placing otherwise hard-to-reach items in spots that are easier to get to. In the autumn and winter months it is also imperative to clear paths and staircases of any snow, ice or leaves in order to avoid slipping.

Low-impact exercise such as walking or aqua-fit is also beneficial to senior health, but one should always first check with their family physician before commencing any new exercise programs.