HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

By Shannon Pierce

IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder among many Americans that directly affects the large intestine, or the colon. It typically causes cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating. This syndrome is chronic and may last over long periods of time in an individual’s life.

 

Symptoms

Each individual person experiencing irritable bowel syndrome may have very different symptoms from one another. Symptoms can be confusing because they are similar to those of other diseases and other bodily issues. The most common symptoms may include bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, mucus in the stools, abdominal pain, and abdominal cramping. Signs and symptoms may increase in severity or decrease in severity over long periods of time.

 

Causes

There are a number of causes and factors that lead to the signs and symptoms of IBS. For instance, our intestinal walls are lined with muscle that contract and relax in order to help us digest our food from the stomach to the rectum. IBS may cause a person to have longer muscle contractions and feel the symptoms listed above. A lack of contractions or weaker contractions may slow digestion, also causing discomfort. IBS also results from abnormalities in the gastrointestinal nervous system. Symptoms of IBS are often triggered from certain foods, and food intolerances, stress, hormone changes and fluctuations, or bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.

 

Diagnosis

 

In order to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, doctors must do a complete physical exam and examine a patient’s medical history. Since it is difficult to diagnose IBS definitively, doctors must often rule out all other potential conditions. One of the key ways that doctors diagnose IBS, is when the patient has experienced abdominal pain and discomfort lasting at least three days a month in the last three months. Their symptoms would also be monitored for improvement with defecation, altered frequency of stool or altered consistency of stool. Doctor’s may also monitor the rate of incomplete bowel movements, mucus in the stool, changes in the stool consistency, and pain relief from defecation.

Treatment

Doctors often treat irritable bowel syndrome by helping the patient manage their pain and symptoms in a way that they can live as normally as possible day to day. Many symptoms can be improved by controlling and managing stress, and making certain dietary changes. Exercise, plenty of fluids, and plenty of sleep can also help to improve symptoms. Some doctors may recommend eliminating high-gas foods, eliminating gluten, or certain carbs such as fructose, lactose, or fructans from the diet. Fiber supplements or anti-diarrheal medicines may also be used for treatment.

 

 


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