Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most disturbing conditions of the intestines. Individuals with IBS are often afraid to go to social events or be around people for fear they will be embarrassed by their IBS symptoms. The symptoms of IBS may begin in the teens and early twenties; the disorder may continue to manifest throughout the person’s life. Irritable bowel syndrome affects the female population more than the males. The symptoms of IBS can cause annoyance and may hamper the daily routines. Going to work or to college can be stressful due to the chronic symptoms associated with IBS.
Clinically, IBS is considered to be a problem of the intestines. IBS is characterized by abnormally fast peristaltic movements of the intestines. The person suffering from irritable bowel syndrome may have diarrhea and constipation. The bowel sounds may be overactive, erratic and nonexistent at different times. With IBS, the peristaltic movements of the intestine can result in erratic movement of food through the bowels; this may cause abdominal pain and cramping. The person suffering from IBS may experience bloating of the abdomen and excessive gas that either is passed or gets trapped in the bowels. The pain and cramping may be from trapped gas or it may also be caused by irritation from the IBS. After eating, the individual may have diarrhea; the diarrhea may be accompanied by mucus. The person suffering from IBS may also suffer from constipation. The individual with IBS usually has a constant urge to move the bowels. Oftentimes, bowel accidents happen when the person releases gas, which can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing for the individual and anyone who is around that person.
Symptoms and causes of IBS
The medical community doesn’t really know what causes IBS. There may be many factors involved. The symptoms of IBS are often most prevalent in people who are involved in stressful situations. Those stressful situations may be from worrying about bills, living in stressful conditions, working in a stressful environment, or worrying about school or travel situations. Irritable bowel syndrome can be controlled with eating a healthy diet that is properly balanced with fiber. Women suffering from IBS may also have their worst symptoms about the time of their menstrual period.
How is IBS diagnosed?
There are no specific laboratory tests or diagnostic tools to pinpoint a diagnosis of IBS. The diagnosis occurs through a process of elimination. The doctor will exclude other forms of diseases of the bowel that may have similar symptoms to IBS.
A few conditions which can cause similar symptoms of IBS include:
Parasitic infestations in the bowels
Tumors in the colon
Side effect from gastric bypass surgery
Autoimmune diseases of the bowels
The doctor will want to rule out any other possible cause for your symptoms before he/she diagnoses you with irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes, just a change of diet can alleviate the symptoms. For instance, an allergy to certain types of foods could result in similar symptoms.
Modern medicine has yet to identify the specific cause and cure for IBS. Fortunately, irritable bowel syndrome can be controlled by proper management and healthy food habits. Treatment for IBS is to relieve the symptoms. It is important to avoid the foods that seem to trigger attacks of IBS. Eating organic foods and high fiber foods are often easier to tolerate than the heavily processed foods. It also helps to reduce your stress level as much as possible. It has long been established that there we have a strong mind-body relationship. Likewise, it is believed that the brain-gut relationship is just as strong.