Irritable Bowel Syndrome
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is a common though uncomfortable disorder of the colon/lower bowel. While the basic cause of IBS is unknown, researchers have found that the colon muscle in people with IBS contract differently than in people without IBS. A number of factors can "trigger" IBS, including certain foods, medicines, and emotional stress.
The good news is that IBS is not a life-threatening condition. IBS does not make a person more likely to develop other colon conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or colon cancer. Yet, IBS can be frustrating because it can come and go throughout life.
What are other names for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) goes by many names. Some people call this condition "nervous stomach" or "irritable bowel," "irritable colon," or "spastic colon." IBS gets the name "nervous stomach" because symptoms can occur at times of emotional stress. Women suffer from IBS more often than men, and it might affect more than one family member.
What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
- Abdominal pain or cramps, usually in the lower half of the abdomen associated with diarrhoea, constipation, or san alternating pattern between the two
- Excess gas
- An urgency to reach the bathroom
- Passing mucus from your bottom
- Lack of energy
Because these symptoms can happen over and over, a person with IBS can feel stressed or saddened by his or her condition. These feelings often become less severe as the person gains control over IBS.
How is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) diagnosed?
When you see your doctor about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), he or she will take your medical history and perform a physical examination. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may want to request certain tests in order to make a diagnosis, including blood tests and stool samples. These tests are usually normal, but they rule out other diseases which may mimic IBS.
How can my healthcare provider help with managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Your healthcare provider can:
- Make sure there is no other cause for your symptoms
- Request blood tests or X-rays if needed
- Offer appropriate medicines
- Suggest dietary therapies
- Answer any questions you have about stress and other IBS triggers
How is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) treated?
Nearly all people with IBS can be helped, but treatment should be individualised for the patient since there is no specific treatment that works for everyone. Usually, with a few basic changes in diet and activities, IBS will improve over time. Here are some steps you can take to help reduce symptoms of IBS:
- Dietary changes such as the Low FODMAP diet. Ask your general practioner or gastroenterologist to refer you to a dieticain
- Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day
- Exercise regularly
- Decrease caffeine (found in coffee, chocolate, teas, and sodas)
- Learn to relax, either by getting more exercise or by reducing stress in your life
- Tricyclic antidepressants in small doses may be an option if you have significant abdominal pain or discomfort
Talk to your health care provider if your symptoms persist. He or she can perform an examination and request tests to make sure that there is no other cause for your symptoms.