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
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
- bloating of the abdomen
- diarrhea and/or constipation
- abdominal pain
- mucus in the stools
- intolerance to certain foods
Women who have IBS often develop more symptoms during their
menstrual periods when the cramping can become very
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
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.
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 Health.com/Irritable Bowel Syndrome