Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Health Center

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition which affects the large intestine (Colon) of the affected people. Cramping, abdominal pains, constipation, gas, diarrhea, constipation as well as bloating are some of the major symptoms of the condition. This is a chronic condition which needs long term management for the proper treatment.

IBS, along with Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the forms of inflammatory bowel disease. IBS increases the chances of contracting colorectal cancer in the affected patients. Only a small percentage of people suffering from IBS are able to witness severe signs and symptoms of the disease. However, the disease can be easily controlled with the help of dietary management, stress management as well as lifestyle. Medication and counselling are some other plausible treatment options.

Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The real cause for IBS is not known exactly for different reasons. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscles which contract and relax rhythmically allowing the food to be digested by these contractions. If a person is suffering from IBS, then these contractions tend to be stronger and longer, resulting in gas, bloating or diarrhoea; or they tend to be weaker leading to hard and dry stools.

Often, the abnormalities related to the gastrointestinal system are also responsible for IBS. Poor coordination of the signals from the brain to the intestines can make it hard for the body to react to the changes which occur during the digestive process normally.

Certain stimuli can trigger the symptoms of IBS in the affected persons. Some of the most common stimuli are as follows:

  1. Foods: Certain foods are known to be allergic and their intolerance can lead to IBS. Certain range of foods such as chocolates, spices, fats, fruits, beans and milk can result in IBS in the affected people.
  2. Stress: Stress is another one of the major reasons which can aggravate the symptoms can cause the disease.
  3. Hormones: Women are at twice the risk of suffering from IBS as compared to men owing to the frequent changes in their hormonal cycles.
  4. Other ailments: Certain other illnesses such as infectious diarrhoea and bacterial infections within the intestines too are known to major trigger factors towards causing IBS. 

Signs and Symptoms of IBS:

The signs and symptoms of IBS tend to vary from one person to the other and often resemble other disease. However, some of the most common symptoms are as follows:

  •       Pain and cramps in the abdomen
  •       Bloating in the abdomen
  •       Gas
  •       Constipation or Diarrhoea
  •       Passing of mucous in the stool

It is recommended to see a doctor if you have been witnessing a change in your bowel habits or if you have the above mentioned symptoms. In some of the severe cases of IBS, the signs and symptoms are as follows:

  •       Rectal bleeding
  •       Abdominal pains which progress over the nighttimes
  •       Loss of weight

Diagnosis of IBS:

Based on the physical tests and the medical history of the patient, the doctors are able to diagnose the condition. Since there are no physical symptoms for the diagnosis of the condition, the doctors have devised two sets of criteria’s for the diagnosis of the condition. They are as follows:

  1. Rome Criteria: According to these criteria, the patient must be suffering from certain signs or symptoms. Most primary symptoms are abdominal pain and discomfort which lasts from three days in a month to almost three months.
  2. Manning Criteria: In this criteria, the focus lies on relieving of the pain, change in the bowel movements or by the presence of mucous in the stool. More the symptoms change, more is the likelihood of IBS.

Apart from these two tests, some of the other tests for the diagnosis of the condition are as follows:

  1. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: This test is done to examine the lower part of the colon with the help of a sigmoidoscope.
  2. Colonoscopy: People over the age of 50 are more prone towards developing serious conditions. Therefore, a colonoscopy is done in order to examine the entire length of the colon.
  3. Radiography: This is done with the help of X rays and the images of the colon are projected over the screen.
  4. CT Scans: These are done in order to obtain cross sectional X rays of the internal organs. CT Scans are done in order to rule out the possibility of other major symptoms relating to the pelvic bone.

Treatments of IBS:

The treatment options for IBS work towards decreasing the symptoms of the disease and allowing the patients to lead a healthy and comfortable life. Changes in your lifestyle and diet can contribute greatly towards helping you lead a comfortable life with IBS. Some of the major treatment options are as follows:

  1. Quitting high gas foods: Bloating is one of the major side effects of the disease. Therefore, the best option is to give up foods such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
  2. Getting rid of Gluten: Research has proved that a lot of people suffering from IBS have reported improvement in their symptoms by quitting diets rich in gluten such as wheat, barley and rye.
  3. Fibre Supplements: Taking in fibre supplements such as Metamucil and Citrucel is known to control constipation. Fibre is also known to control the bloating and helps you to remain in shape.
  4. Lotronex: Alosetron and Lotronex are prescribed to the patients in order to relax their symptoms substantially. These medications are only prescribed to the patients who are suffering from a severe case of IBS and have not treated well to any of the other options.
  5. Amitiza: Lubiprostone and Amitiza work to increase the fluid secretion within the small intestine and thereby help in the passage of the stool throughout the body. It is generally prescribed more to women as compared to men. Some of the major side effects of the medication are nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pains. 
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