IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a common disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. While there are many believed causes of the syndrome, actual causes have not yet been determined. Even so, symptoms can be intense, including abdominal pain, excessive gas, bloating, and ongoing bouts of constipation and/or diarrhea. Often times, the symptoms tend to increase and decrease in intensity, and come and go.
Currently, there is no known cure for irritable bowel syndrome; however, many of the symptoms can be eased with a variety of treatments.
So exactly how can you help your IBS, and make the functional disorder minimal, or significantly better to handle?
Most of the experience symptoms involved in IBS happen in the bowels. As a functional disorder, IBS causes significant and sometimes serious symptoms, but no damage to the intestinal structure. Anytime the gut becomes upset, symptoms can easily arise unexpectedly, causing the sensation to have a bowel movement, even if nothing happens.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms
There Are Significant Symptoms Associated With IBS. The Most Common Include:
Pain and Discomfort Out of all the associated symptoms of IBS, pain and discomfort are the most common.
It often occurs in various stages of the abdomen, and the sensation often comes and goes. The intensity and length of every bout of extreme pain or discomfort varies greatly.
Pain often ceases when stools pass, or gas is eliminated.
Many individuals that suffer with irritable bowel syndrome describe the intense pain is colic or a spasm.
The pain’s severity varies from mild to severe, and from one individual to another along with the length of time it lasts.
Bloating and Swelling Many individuals experience a high level of bloating and swelling in the abdominal area from time to time. Usually, an excessive amount of gas is passed, alleviating the buildup of bloating in the area.
Challenging Stools Many individuals suffer serious bouts of diarrhea, or constipation, or both. Often times, the stools become pellet-like, and small in size. However, they can also become loose or watery, where mucus is mixed with the feces. Often times, individuals have a high sense of urgency to eliminate, even if nothing happens. This urgency is often accompanied during or after a meal.
Other Symptoms There are a variety of other symptoms experienced in individuals with IBS. These include feeling sick (nausea), headaches, bloating, tiredness, poor appetite, muscle pain, backaches, quickly feeling full after eating, bladder symptoms of heartburn.
Nearly every individual at some point in their life will experience occasional mild symptoms of IBS. However, those with a serious condition experience unpleasant symptoms for an extended time.
Most individuals fall in between these two groups, with symptom flare-ups happening from time to time. Many doctors categorize individuals that suffer irritable bowel syndrome into three specific categories. They include:
- Individuals that suffer abdominal discomfort or pain associated with constipation and bloating
- Individuals that suffer abdominal discomfort and pain associated with diarrhea and the urgent need to eliminate
- Individuals that alternate between diarrhea and constipation
However, most individuals cannot be placed neatly into a specific category, but experience and overall mixture of all three.
No single specific unique test can confirm a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. Typically, the doctor will diagnose the condition based on the totality of the present symptoms.
The symptoms associated with other serious diseases are at times confused with irritable bowel syndrome. Testing can be done using a blood sample that includes:
FVC (Full Blood Count) This type of testing can rule out anemia, which is often associated with a variety of gut disorders.
ESR (Erthrocyte Sedimentation Rate) and/or CRP (C-Reactive Protein) Both of these tests can show any inflammation in the patient’s body not associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Anti-Body Testing This type of testing often detect celiac disease, a harmful gastrointestinal disease exacerbated by the consumption of wheat and other products.
Significantly more complicated testing can be performed, including an endoscopy, where the physician looks in the patient’s bowel using specialized equipment. Individuals 45 years and older should likely have an endoscopy to rule out any serious medical condition.
Minimizing The Symptoms
To date, there is no actual known cause of irritable bowel syndrome. However, many doctors and researchers believe it is an over-activity of muscles and nerves in the intestines.
Generally, emotional upset and high levels of stress can play a significant role in many of the symptoms involved in IBS. Often times, the symptoms become significantly worse during times of anxiety, stress or emotional distress.
In addition, many individuals have a high intolerance for a variety of foods that might play a significant role in outbreaks of IBS.
Researchers also know that bacteria and infection the gut can be found in approximately one in six cases involving IBS. Individuals that have bouts of gastroenteritis seem to develop IBS later on.
In addition, the symptoms tend to get significantly worse during and after taking a series of antibiotic medications. This is likely the result of the antibiotics killing good bacteria in the intestines causing an imbalance in the gut.
Fortunately, irritable bowel syndrome does not cause permanent damage to the intestines. However, it is important to eat right, and visit the doctor when experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of IBS.