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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?


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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms, including pain discomfort in your abdomen combined with changes in your bowel movement patterns.
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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

  2. 2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a group of symptoms, including pain discomfort in your abdomen combined with changes in your bowel movement patterns. IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means your GI tract behaves in an abnormal way without evidence of damage due to a disease. In the past, irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, was referred as colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, nervous colon, and spastic bowel. The change in the term reflects a better understanding that the disorder can have both a physical and mental component, such as stress.
  3. 3. What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include pain or discomfort in your abdomen and changes in how often you have bowel movements or how your stools look. Pain or discomfort of irritable bowel syndrome may feel like cramping accompanied by at least two of these changes: • Your pain or discomfort improves after a bowel movement. • You notice a change in how often you have a bowel movement. • You notice a change in the way your stools look. • You’ve had symptoms at least three times a month for the past 3 months. • Your symptoms first started at least 6 months ago.
  4. 4. How common is IBS? According to the NIH, as many as 1 in 5 American adults have signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, yet less than 1 in 5 who have symptoms seek medical help. IBS is estimated to affect 10 to 15 percent of U.S. adults. IBS affects about twice as many women as men and most often occurs in people younger than age 45.
  5. 5. What causes IBS? • The precise causes of IBS are unknown. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. • If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhea. Or the opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools. • It is thought that various stimuli can prompt symptoms in people with IBS; of course not all people react to the same stimuli.
  6. 6. Some of the common triggers include: • Food • Stress • Hormonal changes in women. Younger women with IBS often have more symptoms during their menstrual periods. Post-menopausal women have fewer symptoms compared with women who are still menstruating. • Other gastrointestinal illnesses, including acute episodes of infectious diarrhea (gastroenteritis) or bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.
  7. 7. When to see your doctor? • As with any other persistent change in bowel habits or prolonged episodes of gastric distress, seeing your doctor is crucial in the effective treatment of IBS and early diagnosis of more serious conditions, such as cancer.
  8. 8. How is IBS diagnosed? • Your doctor may be able to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome beginning with a review of your medical history, symptoms, and a physical exam. In some cases, depending on the symptoms and other factors in your medical history, a stool test may be ordered and a flexible sigmoidoscopy, an outpatient procedure, may be performed to examine the lower large intestine. • Keeping a written record of any changes in your normal bowel movement routine, changes to your diet, or additional life stressors will help with a diagnosis. Any information about a family history of gastrointestinal tract disorders can also be helpful in the diagnosis. • The combination of symptoms combined with your personal history, and any other tests that have been performed will provide your doctor with the information needed for a diagnosis and a course of treatment.
  9. 9. What are the available treatments? Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t have a cure, but once you’ve been diagnosed your doctor can help you manage the symptoms through a combination of diet, medicines, probiotics, and therapies for any presenting mental health issues. You may have to try a few treatments to see which combination works best for you. Perhaps one of the most harmful side effects of irritable bowel syndrome can be the toll that it takes on a person’s general quality of life leading to depression and other negative mental health outcomes, which makes finding a medical diagnosis and treatment regimen vitally important.
  10. 10. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome contact your doctor today. Visit this Link to Find a Gastroenterologist in your Area gastroenterologist-in-your-area/