Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS affects millions of people. People can get it in their late teens to early 40s. It’s a combination of different belly discomfort or pain and trouble at bowel habits. It may be going to the bathroom more or less often than the normal or having a different type of stool. Even though it is not life-threatening, it can be a long-lasting problem and it may affect your lifestyle. It may impact your activeness, effectiveness and daily life.
Some of the most common symptoms of IBS
- This is the most common symptoms generally seen in case of people suffering from IBS
- belly pains or cramps which is generally seen in the lower half of the belly. This pain may get worse after meals and it feels better after a bowel movement.
- Constipation alternating with diarrhoea
- Bloating or a lot of gas
- Harder or loses tools than normal
- Sticking out of the belly
These symptoms can get worse. If you are always under stress, they can make your condition worse. Some people may suffer from urinary symptoms or sexual problems.
This condition has four types- IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), mixed IBS (IBS-M) and unsubtyped IBS or IBS-U. People suffering from mixed IBS have an alternating pattern of constipation and diarrhea. People who do not fit in any of the three categories are included in the IBS-U category.
Causes of IBS
There may be several causes or triggers of IBS. Studies have found that if the colon gets hypersensitive, it can overreact to mild stimulation. When that happens, instead of slow, rhythmic muscle movements, the muscles in the bowel spasm. That can result in diarrhoea or constipation.
According to other studies IBS happens if the muscles in the bowels don’t squeeze normally. It affects the movement of stool. According to another theory, IBS involves chemicals made by the body. Serotonin and gastrin, which are responsible for controlling nerve signals between the brain and digestive tract may be responsible for the condition.
Researchers are also studying if certain bacteria in the bowels are causing this condition. Since IBS is seen more in case of women, other researchers are also studying the roles of hormones in IBS.
Diagnosis of IBS
No specific lab test can diagnose IBS. The doctors will take a look at the symptoms and try to match that with the definition of IBS. There may be some tests necessary for proper diagnosis. Diagnosis will rule out conditions like
- Food allergies or intolerances. Some people may have lactose intolerance and poor dietary habits and as a result of that similar symptoms may appear.
- Medicines may cause similar bowel problems. Some medicines like high blood pressure medicines, iron and certain antacids can cause similar reactions and show similar symptoms.
- enzyme deficiencies. In such case, pancreas is not releasing enough enzymes for proper digestion and breaking down of foods.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases may also show similar symptoms. Such diseases like ulcerative qualities or Crohn’s disease may result in similar issues.
The following tests are generally conducted to find out if you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. It helps to find signs of blockage or inflammation in the intestines.
- upper endoscopy if you are suffering from heartburn or indigestion.
- Blood tests which will help the doctor to find if you are suffering from anaemia, thyroid problems or any infection.
- Stool tests etc.