Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disease that can affects how the large intestine works. Normally, food moves through the digestive tract from the small intestine to the colon. The colon will absorb any water in the food and contract to push stool through.
In people with IBS, these muscle contractions may be abnormal. Sometimes there might be too many contractions leading to diarrhea. Sometimes, these contractions are slowed down causing constipation. Even when there is no stool, the muscle still contract irregularly, causing pain for the patient.
IBS is common. It affects 10 – 15 people in each 100. IBS commonly attack women more than men, with about twice as many women as men. Young people under 45 usually have IBS, starting at adolescence with no considerable symptoms but may get worse at older age.
The symptoms are found in the bowel. In mild cases, it might seem like regular diarrhea and then get more frequent and painful. These symptoms come and go over a long period. Common symptoms include:
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
Although people have irritable bowel syndrome, IBS can be controlled by medication. It’s important to see your doctor if you have a persistent change in bowel habits, especially when most bowel conditions have the same symptoms.
Your doctor may be able to help you find ways to relieve symptoms as well as rule out colon conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. Your doctor can also help you avoid possible complications that might result from IBS.
The cause is unknown but IBS appears to be related to the nervous system. People with IBS have a colon that reacts very strongly to signals from the brain. Many people find IBS can be triggered by some of the following:
There are many risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome, such as:
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
Not everyone who has gastrointestinal symptoms has IBS. The doctor diagnoses IBS by taking a careful medical history to detail the symptoms. No test can prove that someone has IBS.
The doctor may use blood tests, x-rays, and looking at the colon through a thin, flexible tube (special instrument called an endoscope) to rule out other disorders.
Although the best way to treat IBS is by avoiding triggers, there are a few medications that can control the symptoms. You will be given medication to:
Over-the-counter laxatives should be taken only under a doctor’s direction, because overuse of laxatives may be harmful. Tranquilizers and antidepressants may also help people with IBS.
Two common mediations for IBS are Alosetron (Lotronex) and Lubiprostone (Amitiza). However, these medications are not recommended for men.
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What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Lifestyle changes may help relieve IBS symptoms. These changes include eating a high-fiber diet, avoiding foods that make symptoms worse, eating regular meals that are not too big, drinking enough water, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.