Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gut disorder that causes bloating and abdominal pain. A person suffering from this condition is likely to experience constipation that alternates with diarrhea. There is no known cause for this disorder but certain factors are known to aggravate it. These factors include infections, emotional stress and environmental changes; there are also certain foods that make the condition worse. Several studies have suggested that serotonin, a neurotransmitter seems to be an important factor in occurrence of this condition because it causes changes in bowel function and pain sensation.
Some researchers have suggested that the condition could be caused by an undiscovered active infection. Studies show that non-absorbed antibiotic rifaximin provides sustained relief for some patients suffering from IBS. There is also growing evidence that seems to suggest that patients who suffer from this condition tend to experience an overgrowth of flora in the intestine.
Women are likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome 3 times more than men although females are also known to seek treatment more than their male counterparts. These differences could be a reflection of both social and biological factors. Studies of female patients with this condition indicate that symptom severity usually fluctuates with menstrual cycle which suggests that hormonal severity is likely to be an important factor for this condition.
This disorder does not cause serious damage to body organs and rarely results in development of serious bowel condition such as colitis and cancer. Common irritable bowel syndrome symptoms include:
Abdominal cramping or pain that is usually relieved by breaking wind or passing stool.
Alternating between constipation and diarrhea
Presence of mucus in stools
A sensation of fullness even after emptying the bowels
Gastro esophageal reflux
Chronic fatigue syndrome
There is no imaging or specific laboratory test that health professionals can perform to diagnose the condition. Diagnosing IBS involves ruling out other conditions that produce similar symptoms .This is followed by a procedure that classifies patient’s symptoms in order to rule out conditions such as lactose intolerance, parasitic infections, celia disease and small intestinal bacteria overgrowth.
The syndrome can be subdivided into 3 main categories, these include:
Patients who have this type of the syndrome usually experiences diarrhea after eating or first thing in the morning. They also experience an urgent need to go to the toilet that cannot be delayed. Such patients are highly likely to have continence problems.
Alternating diarrhea and constipation
These patients tend to have an alternating experience between normal stools and constipation. Such patients are also likely to experience abdominal aches and cramps which are often triggered by eating.
Irritable bowel syndrome cannot be cured by special diets and medications. The main preventative measure is to avoid individual triggers by indentifying them. Treatment approaches include:
Eliminating or reducing foods that produce gas such as cabbages and beans.
Increasing dietary fiber coupled with plenty of fluids.
Administering anti-diarrhea drugs such as lomotil or Imodium, these drugs are an essential part of managing the diarrhea-pre-dominant type of the disorder.
Antispasmodic drugs that decrease cramping including belladonna and mebeverine as well as peppermint oil capsules.
Avoiding rapid routine changes that may trigger the syndrome.