Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common disorder which affects the colon (large intestine). It causes constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain and cramping. Irritable bowel syndrome is usually long term. Unlike other disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t result to colorectal cancer or changes in bowel tissue disorder. Irritable bowel syndrome can be controlled by administering changes in your diet and lifestyle. Some also require counseling and medication.
When should you see a doctor?
- When you acquire symptoms like sudden weight loss, severe abdominal pain which progresses at night and rectal bleeding, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
What causes irritable bowel syndrome?
The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not yet known but studies suggest that a lot of factors play a major role. The intestinal walls are lined with a layer of muscle which contracts and relaxes in a rhythm when they move to your rectum through your intestinal tract. If you acquire irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions can get stronger and last much longer than usual. This causes diarrhea, bloating and gas. In some cases, the opposite can also occur, this can be characterized by weak intestinal contractions, which slows food passage resulting to dry and hard stools.
However, some factors which cause irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Foods- Many people have severe symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome when they consume certain things such as alcohol, carbonated beverages, milk, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, fruits, fats, spices and chocolates.
- Stress- Most people who have irritable bowel syndrome find that their symptoms worsen and are more frequent during periods of extreme stress. While stress can aggravate these signs, it doesn’t cause irritable bowel syndrome.
- Hormones- Studies state that women are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome than men. Hormonal changes play a big role in triggering irritable bowel syndrome. Many women experience worsening of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) during their menstrual periods.
- Other illnesses- Other medical disorders such as bacterial overgrowth and gastroenteritis can also trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Risk factors of irritable bowel syndrome:
- People below the age of 45 are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Studies state that people who have a parent or any family member suffering from irritable bowel syndrome are at a higher risk of developing it themselves.
- Personality disorder, depression, anxiety, a history of sexual abuse and domestic violence is a major risk factor for developing irritable bowel syndrome.