What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal condition characterized by abdominal pain and cramps; changes in bowel movements (diarrhea, constipation, or both); gassiness; bloating; nausea; and other symptoms. There is no cure for IBS. Much about the condition remains unknown or poorly understood; however, dietary changes, drugs, and psychological
treatment are often able to eliminate or substantially reduce its symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome is the name people use today for a condition that was once called--among other things--colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, nervous colon, spastic bowel, and functional bowel disorder. Some of these names reflected the now outdated belief that IBS is a purely psychological disorder, a product of the patient's imagination. Although modern medicine recognizes that stress can trigger IBS attacks, medical specialists agree that IBS is a genuine physical disorder--or group of disorders--with specific identifiable characteristics.
Irritable bowel syndrome is called a functional disorder because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined. Because physicians have been unable to find an organic cause, IBS often has been thought to be caused by emotional conflict or stress. While stress may worsen IBS symptoms, research suggests that other factors also are important. The severity of the disorder varies from person to person. Some people experience symptoms that come and go and are just mildly annoying, while others have such severe daily bowel problems that IBS affects their ability to work, sleep and enjoy life. In addition, symptoms may change over time. A person may have severe symptoms for several weeks and then feel well for months or even years. Most people are never cured of IBS, but the disorder is not related to any other disease, and does not develop into any other disease, such as ulcerative colitis or colon cancer.
Irritable bowel syndrome normally makes its first appearance during young adulthood, and in half of all cases symptoms begin before age 35. Women with IBS outnumber men by two to one, for reasons that are not yet understood. IBS is responsible for more time lost from work and school than any medical problem other than the common cold. It accounts for a substantial proportion of the patients seen by specialists in diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologists). Yet only half--possibly as few as 15%--of IBS sufferers ever consult a doctor. Irritable bowel syndrome is not contagious, inherited, or cancerous. However, IBS often disrupts daily living activities. Nineteen percent of respondents in a survey of married or cohabiting people with IBS stated that they had difficulties in their personal relationships, and 45% stated that IBS interfered with their sex life.
More information on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? - Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a intestinal condition characterized by abdominal pain and cramps, changes in bowel movements, gassiness, bloating, nausea, and other symptoms.
What causes irritable bowel syndrome? - An abnormality in digestion and propulsion process cause irritable bowel syndrome. Nerve-signalling chemicals, particularly serotonin, and stress appear to have an important role.
What're the risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome? - Stress stimulates colonic spasm in people with IBS. Female reproductive hormones are another trigger of irritable bowel syndrome.
What are the symptoms of IBS? - Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are abdominal pain or discomfort associated with changes in bowel habits in the absence of any structural abnormality.
How is irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed? - Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is diagnosed with colonoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), abdominal ultrasound, blood tests.
What's the treatment for irritable bowel syndrome? - Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome can consist of dietary advice, stool softeners and laxatives in obstipation-predominant, and antidiarrheals (loperamide) in diarrhea-predominant IBS.
What irritable bowel syndrome diet is suggested? - Fiber supplementation may improve symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. Avoid food or beverages that make the symptoms worse.
What medications cure irritable bowel syndrome? - Antispasmodic medicines are used to treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Antidiarrheal medications are used when diarrhea is a major feature of IBS.
Stress management for irritable bowel syndrome - Situations such as family problems, work stress, exams, etc, may trigger symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in some people.