Digestion & Digestive health - Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized most commonly by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not permanently harm the intestines and does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer. Most people can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, and prescribed medications. For some people, however, IBS can be disabling. They may be unable to work, attend social events, or even travel short distances.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common complaints in the western world. Around 50% of all gastrointestinal complaints and half of all GP referrals are due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is also known to many as spastic colon, mucous colitis, functional bowel disorder, dyspeptic diarrhoea, spastic constipation, anxiety and GI syndrome, and nervous bowel. As many as 20 percent of the adult population, or one in five Americans, have symptoms of IBS, making it one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors.

IBS occurs more often in women than in men, and it begins before the age of 35 in about 50 percent of people.
It affects 24% of all women and 19% of all men, usually developing in late adolescence or early adulthood. Before the menopause, more women than men present with IBS; after the menopause the numbers are about equal. The condition is characterized by intermittent periods of constipation or diarrhoea, often accompanied by bloating and/or abdominal pain, mucous in stools and bowel rumbling.

If you are concerned about IBS, it is important to realize that normal bowel function, which ofcourse varies from person to person, is very important. Normal bowel movements range from as many as three stools a day to as few as three a week. A normal movement is one that is formed but not hard, contains no blood, and is passed without cramps or pain. People with IBS, usually have crampy abdominal pain with painful constipation or diarrhea. In some people, constipation and diarrhea alternate. Sometimes people with IBS pass mucus with their bowel movements. Bleeding, fever, weight loss, and persistent severe pain are not symptoms of IBS but may indicate other problems.

The main symptoms of IBS are :

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort in the abdomen, often relieved by or associated with a bowel movement
  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both
  • Other symptoms are
  • Whitish mucus in the stool
  • A swollen or bloated abdomen
  • The feeling that you have not finished a bowel movement
  • Women with IBS often have more symptoms during their menstrual periods.

Read More about Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms, Causes and treatment

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