Answers For YOUR Health

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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The description of irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS is not one of illness, rather it is a digestive disorder that mainly appears to affect the bowel or large intestine. The bowel is the part of the digestive system that stores stools. However, this disorder affects the entire digestive system not just the bowel.

All along the digestive system IBS causes the normal rhythmic contractions of the intestines to become irregular and uncoordinated. Not only does this interfere with the movement of food and waste but it interferes with the absorption of nutrients from the food as well. For this reason, many persons with IBS are also suffering from malnutrition without even being aware of that side of the problem.

There are a number of symptoms associated with IBS which give rise to the term syndrome.

Symptoms may include


  • cramping
  • bloating of the abdomen
  • diarrhea and/or constipation
  • gas 
  • abdominal pain
  • mucus in the stools
  • anorexia
  • intolerance to certain foods
  • nausea

Women who have IBS often develop more symptoms during their menstrual periods when the cramping can become very painful.

Although stress does not cause IBS, it can trigger some of the symptoms.

The bowel can over-react due to many reasons including hormones, exercise and food or milk products such as chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, fatty foots or eating a large meal.

The main symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome are abdominal pain with diarrhea and constipation. The diarrhea and constipation often alternate leaving the sufferer either living in the bathroom or wishing they could just - go. This alternating condition is often aggravated by the use of antibiotics and laxatives.

Doctors estimate that at least half of the sufferers of IBS do not seek medical assistance from their healthcare giver. The tests conducted by your physical can be uncomfortable to say the least but that discomfort is by far much less than the discomfort of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Medical tests for IBS include a physical examination. Blood tests, an X-ray of the bowel known as a barium enema or lower gastrointestinal series (GI). The Barium consists of a thick liquid that make the bowel more visible during an X-ray. The Barium will be inserted into the bowel via the anus before the X-ray is performed.

An colonoscopy is when a thin tube with a camera in it is inserted into the bowel so the doctor can examine the inside of the bowel and intestines for any problems you may have.

It is important for anyone who thinks they might have IBS to consult a healthcare provider. Similar symptoms can be caused by Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, lactose intolerance and ulcerative colitis. The treatment can be very different for each of these conditions.

Although there is no cure for IBS, certain things can be done to relieve the symptoms. Treatment may include dietary changes, medicines or forms of stress relief.

What you want is the stimulus that causes the irritability to be removed. If that stimulus is a combination of food and stress then your Irritable Bowel Syndrome may be difficult to control but not impossible.

Dietary changes

Certain foods such as fatty foods (French fries), milk products, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks and chocolate can make IBS worse. Foods that cause IBS should be avoided and a food diary kept so you can ensure you know all the foods which cause your IBS to flare up.

You should discuss the foods that you believe cause the symptoms with your doctor or a dietician who will give you the advice you need to keep your IBS flare ups to a minimum.

©Answers for Your Bowel Syndrome



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