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• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder considered to be related to hypersensitivity of the gut towards the stimulus from nerves or the brain with no underlying bowel disease or pathology.
• Hypersensitivity to the stimulus alters the muscle contraction of the bowel wall resulting in abdominal pain and changes in bowel movement which could be diarrhea or constipation or both.
• These symptoms occur together and vary in severity and duration from person to person.
• IBS is not related to any bowel pathology or condition and is different from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Studies suggest that about 11 percent of people in the world have IBS.
Women: two times are more likely to have IBS than men.
Younger people: Younger people below 50 years have 25% more chances of developing an IBS than a person over 50 years.
Family history of IBS: genes and common environmental factors are considered to play a role.
Mental stress and health issues: conditions like anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are associated with IBS. History of a stressful event in the past like child abuse, sexual abuse, or significant physical or emotional abuse can also play a role in the development of IBS.
1. Abdominal pain, often associated with bowel movements. In many people, it usually worsens after eating and eases off after passing stools.
There are 3 types of IBS based on patterns of changes in the bowel movements.
1. IBS with constipation: where the person has at least one abnormal bowel movement with
• More than a quarter of the stools being hard or lumpy in consistency and
• Less than a quarter of the stools being loose or watery
2. IBS with diarrhea: where the person has at least one abnormal bowel movement with
• More than a quarter of the stools being loose or watery in consistency and
• Less than a quarter of the stools being hard or lumpy
3. IBS with mixed bowel habits
• More than a quarter of the stools being hard or lumpy and
• More than a quarter of your stools being loose or watery
For the treatment, it is important to know the type of IBS. Some medicines work only in some types or make the other worse.
• Bloating- where the abdomen feels full and swollen. It is thought that people with IBS is also sensitive to a small amount of gas which otherwise doesn’t produce symptoms.
• Farting or flatulence
• Feeling of the incomplete passage of stools
• Passing mucus in feces
Women having IBS often complain of more symptoms during their periods.
IBS is a chronic condition where the person experiences symptoms for a long time, where the symptoms change in severity with a symptomless period in between.
Following signs could indicate some serious underlying condition and needs immediate medical attention:
• Unexplained weight loss
• Blood in stools or from the anus
• shortness of breath
• pale skin
The flare-up of an episode of IBS or worsening of the symptoms may have no obvious triggers. Sometimes it may be triggered by the following things:
Stress and anxiety
Food items like spicy or fatty food, alcohol, caffeine, dairy products, etc may induce an episode of IBS.
Hormonal changes: in many women the symptoms worsen during or around their periods.
People suffering from IBS may also have other health conditions like:
• Digestive issues like as dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux disease
The IBS could significantly affect the quality of life and could eventually lead to some complications in certain people which are as follows:
Mood changes and mental issues: The chronicity of the condition and associated symptoms of pain and altered bowel motion could lead to significant mental stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Poor quality of life: Repeated and chronic nature of the condition could significantly reduce the efficiency and performance of the person in all spheres of life.
Hemorrhoids or piles: chronic constipation or diarrhea could eventually lead to the development of dilatation of veins in the region of the anus which may also bleed.
The exact cause of IBS is not known. The researches suggest a combination of problems may lead to IBS. Different factors may result in IBS in different people. It is considered to be a functional gastrointestinal disorder where there is a problem with brain-gut interaction.
Some problems are more common in people with IBS which may indicate their role in the development of IBS. These are as follows:
History of IBS in family members: this indicates the role of commonly shared genes in the family and the possibility of common environmental factors.
Stressful events in an early lifetime, such as sexual or physical abuse.
Increased immune response in the gut: some people with IBS show increased immune system cells in the gut suggesting increased immune response in the gut.
History of severe infection in the gut.
Change in small intestinal bacteria: in some people with IBS, an increase in the number or a change in the type of bacteria may be found.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is diagnosed on the basis of clinical symptoms using well-formulated criteria. The diagnostic tests are required to rule out other conditions that can also seem like IBS or to rule out any complications of IBS.
The treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is based on relieving symptoms.
Mild symptoms are generally managed by bringing about changes in the lifestyle and diet and by managing stress.
Finding ways to deal with stress may help prevent or ease symptoms of IBS. Consider trying:
• Counseling. A counselor can help you learn to modify or change your responses to stress. Studies have shown that psychotherapy can provide a significant and long-lasting reduction of symptoms.
• Biofeedback. Electrical sensors help you receive information (feedback) on your body’s functions. The feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes, such as relaxing certain muscles, to ease symptoms.
• Progressive relaxation exercises. These exercises help you relax muscles in your body, one by one. Start by tightening the muscles in your feet, then concentrate on slowly letting all of the tension go. Next, tighten and relax your calves. Continue until the muscles in your body, including those in your eyes and scalp, are relaxed.
• Mindfulness training. This stress-reduction technique helps you focus on being in the moment and letting go of worries and distractions.
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