Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): definition, Symptoms, Foods To Eat & Foods To Avoid

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Triggers, and Treatment

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that particularly affects the large intestine and may cause signs like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and cramping. Irritable bowel syndrome can be a chronic condition that may linger for longer periods. A small number of people with IBS may experience severe symptoms. You can control your symptoms by managing lifestyle, diet, and stress. For the more severe cases of IBS, the patients must get medications, physical examination, and counseling on time. Irritable bowel syndrome is also known as spastic colon and the underlying cause of this gastrointestinal disorder is not yet determined. Other medical names for this condition include nervous colon, mucous colitis, spastic colon, or functional bowel disease.

IBS can develop secondary to multiple reasons, but it does not cause alterations in bowel tissues of colon or increase your risk of developing colon or colorectal cancer. Multiple signs and symptoms are associated with this condition. Food intolerance, distention, and altered bowel habits are some of the most troublesome symptoms of irritable bowel syndromes – which greatly affect the quality of your life. At the moment, there is no complete cure for IBS; However, several treatment options are available to reduce or subside symptoms. The diagnosis of IBS has its basis on the frequency and duration of symptoms. To label someone with IBS, he or she must develop specific symptoms at least thrice a month and for more than six months respectively.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a problem with the motility of the bowel tissues. The term IBS refers to the alterations in the functioning of the digestive system – that leads to the cluster of symptoms. Blood testing might also help to identify the form and type of irritable bowel syndrome a person is suffering from. The treatment for irritable bowel syndrome includes prescription medications, lifestyle changes, and dietary modifications.

1Common Symptoms of IBS

Abdominal pain and cramping

The statistical data show that irritable bowel syndrome affects almost 6-18% of the population all over the world. This condition causes alterations in bowel frequency and movements. Nearly 70% of the people experience indigestion – which is technically not a symptom of IBS. The symptoms of IBS often get better as the person passes bowels. While the women having IBS experience more symptoms during the menstrual periods. Few people experience the alternating symptoms of constipation or diarrhea while others suffer from either recurrent diarrhea or constipation. The most frequent symptoms among IBS patients are mainly cramping and abdominal pain. The following are some of the common IBS signs and symptoms:

Abdominal pain and cramping

Abdominal pain is one of the hallmark symptoms of IBS and a major factor that helps in diagnosing the condition. Generally, our gut and brain work in harmony to control the process of food digestion and absorption. The brain and gut work together through the help of signals, nerves, and hormones. In patients with IBS, these shared signals suffer distortion due to autoimmune changes in the gut – thus leading to classic abdominal pain and uncoordinated friction in the muscles of the digestive tract. [1]

The resulting pain mainly occurs in the entire abdomen, or more specifically in the lower abdomen. However, the pain is less likely to occur in the upper abdomen only. Pain generally subsides with the bowel movements. Diet modification, including a FODMAPs low diet, greatly helps with IBS pain. Other effective treatments to ease abdominal pain include bowel relaxants such as hypnotherapy, behavior therapy, and peppermint oil. Sometimes the abdominal pain and cramping does not respond to any diet modifications or prescription medications. In such cases, it becomes compulsory to seek help from a gastroenterologist.

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