IBS or irritable bowel syndrome affects millions of people. It can occur at any time but mostly is seen in case of people from their late teens to early 40s. It is a mix of belly discomfort and pain and also with bowel habits. This is a very difficult situation and it can directly impact your life. It can be a long-lasting problem and can change your lifestyle completely. It may be difficult for you to go out to attend to the things you need to do and successfully complete your daily activities.
Symptoms of IBS
People who suffer from IBS generally may have the following symptoms-
- Diarrhoea and many times it can be violent
- A lot of gas or bloating
- Constipation alternating with diarrhoea
- Harder or looser stools than normal
- Belly pains or cramps, usually in the lower half of the belly,
- Belly pain or cramps get worse after meals and feel better after a bowel movement
- A belly that sticks out
IBS will cause stress in your life and with stress the symptoms can get worse. Some people may also suffer from urinary or sexual problems and show symptoms of the same.
In case of IBS, four conditions are seen. It may be IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IB as with diarrhoea (IBS-D), mixed IBS (IBS-M), and unsubtyped IBS (IBS-U).
Causes of IBS
Several causes may result in IBS or at least trigger IBS symptoms. However experts are not sure what causes the condition. Different studies have been done to find out about the causes of IBS and they suggest that when the call gets hypersensitive it can overreact to mild stimulation. When that happens, instead of slow and rhythmic muscle movements, the muscles in the bowel may spasm. That can result in diarrhoea or constipation. According to some other experts IBS occurs if the muscles in your bowel don't squeeze normally. When that happens the process affects the movement of stool. According to another tureen, IBS is caused by some of the chemicals produced by the body. Such chemicals include serotonin and gastrin which can control nerve signals between the brain and digestive tract.
IBS is seen more in case of women and so some experts believe that hormones may play a role in development of IBS. However, studies have not been able to find that relationship yet.
Diagnosis of IBS
No specific lab tests are available for diagnosis of IBS. The diagnosis will depend on your doctor who will decide if the symptoms match the symptoms of IBS. However, some lab tests are done by the doctor to ensure that you are not suffering from the following conditions like-
- Food allergies or intolerances, like lactose intolerance and poor dietary habits
- Medicines like high blood pressure drugs, iron, and certain antacids
- Enzyme deficiencies where the pancreas isn’t releasing enough enzymes to properly digest or break down food
- Inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
For deciding whether you have IBS or not, your doctor may ask you to go for any or all of the following lab tests-
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. It will look for signs of blockage or inflammation in your intestines
- Upper endoscopy if you are suffering from heartburn or indigestion
- Stool tests for blood or infections
- Blood tests to ensure whether you have anaemia (too few red blood cells), thyroid problems, and signs of infection or not
- Tests for lactose intolerance, gluten allergy, or celiac disease