What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
IBS is quite a common condition and describes a disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. IBS specifically affects the lower GI area consisting of the small intestine, large intestine, and colon.
Note IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) refers to a group of disorders that cause inflammation or destruction of the bowel wall (such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis) This can lead to a variety of acute conditions such as sores and narrowing of the intestines. It’s possible to have both IBD and IBS.
Usually, IBS is presented as chronic discomfort and other unspecific symptoms affecting the digestive tract. IBS is strongly related to your lifestyle habits, diet and stress and can be managed to have a normal life.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Signs and Symptoms
IBS is related to a wide-open list of unspecific symptoms that affects the large intestine and they can be different for every person, the most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and discomfort.
- Periods of diarrhea and constipation.
- Presence of mucus in the stools.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Common Causes
The precise cause of IBS remains unknown until now. However, there are some factors that make you higher risk to this condition, including:
- People under 50 years old.
- Family history of IBP.
- Abnormalities in the nerves of your intestinal walls.
- Intestinal inflammatory diseases.
- Severe gastrointestinal infections.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis
Unfortunately, there is no a specific test to diagnose IBS. In most cases, the diagnosis is made after excluding some other common conditions that affect the digestive system. Your doctor will perform a complete medical history and physical exam and also will run out some test to find the underlying cause of your condition, including:
- Colonoscopy and upper endoscopy.
- Lactose intolerance tests.
- Abdominal X-ray or CT scan.
- Breath and stool tests.
Additionally, your doctor will use one of the sets of diagnostic criteria for IBS, the Rome criteria, which include:
- Abdominal pain and discomfort at least one day a week in the last three months.
- Associated with at least two of these factors: pain during defecation, altered defecation frequency and altered stool consistency.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment
The treatment of IBS is focused on managing your symptoms, in order to have a normal life. Most of the time, IBS symptoms can be improved just by making some lifestyle changes. Although, there are some medication options available for this condition.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes:
- Eating in a calm and peaceful environment.
- Avoiding fatty, too salty and spicy food.
- Eating high-fiber foods.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Reducing smoking, caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Having regular exercise.
In case your symptoms are more severe, your doctor might suggest the following treatment options:
- Fiber supplements like psyllium, to control constipation.
- Anti-diarrheal medication like loperamide.
- SSRI antidepressants like fluoxetine or paroxetine may help if you’re depressed and have chronic pain.
- Alosetron and Eluxadoline, which are designed to relax the colon and are used for severe cases of diarrhea related to IBS.
- Rifaximin which is an antibiotic that decreases bacterial overgrowth and diarrhea.