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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Know More About It!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Kshitiz Awadhwal 91% (39 ratings)
MBBS, DNB- Family Medicine, Acute Medicine, FICM (Fellowship in Intensive care Medicine), Diabetology
General Physician, Lucknow  •  7 years experience
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Know More About It!

Do you have unsatisfactory bowel movements?
You may be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS).
Here is when to consult a doctor for successful control of symptoms. 

A chronic condition, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the large intestine that exhibits symptoms such as bloating, abdominal cramps, gas and diarrhea. 
The symptoms of IBS can be controlled by making lifestyle changes such as incorporating certain modifications to your diet and reducing or managing stress levels. 
For severe symptoms, you may require medications.

Symptoms:
The symptoms of IBS can vary; some of them are:

1. Gaseous distension or Bloated stomach
2. Abdominal cramps or abdominal pain
3. Flatulence 
4. Constipation or diarrhea (increased visits to toilet but no increase in stool volume or unsatisfactory bowel movements)
5. Presence of mucus in the stool
6. Thinking about bowel movements
Some other severe symptoms of IBS include sudden loss of weight and rectal bleeding.

Causes:
The exact cause of IBS is not known, but there are certain factors that may act as triggers. There are muscles lining the walls of the intestine that relax and contract in a proper rhythm, thus allowing the passage of food through the intestine. In case of IBS, these contractions tend to be irregular, resulting in gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Some of the factors that can trigger the condition are:

Psychiatric conditions like Anxiety/Stress/Depression/Somatoform disorders/Personality disorders/History of sexual abuse: Studies show that symptoms of IBS considerably increase if you are having psychiatric conditions over a prolonged period of time.

  • Hormones: Hormonal changes can play a role in triggering IBS. For a woman, the symptoms can worsen during her menstrual cycles.
  • Foods: Certain foods such as spices, chocolate, milk and broccoli can act as triggers.
  • Other Disorders: In some cases, other underlying conditions such as bacterial overgrowth or infectious diarrhea can cause IBS.

Treatment:
The initial step to manage the symptoms of the condition is to make prompt changes in your diet, such as eliminating spicy foods and dairy products, atleast till the symptoms subside. It is advised to resort to medications only if the dietary changes fail to yield results.

The various treatments are:

  • Very often (but not always) patient requires a combination of anti-depressants and IBS specific anti-spasmodics.
  • Anti-diarrheal Medications: Anti-diarrheal medication such as loperamide is used to control and manage diarrhea.
  • Fiber Supplements: Certain fiber supplements such as methylcellulose and psyllium can help in managing constipation.
  • Acid suppression in stomach is very helpful
  • Antibiotics are prescribed only if the symptoms result from bacterial overgrowth in the intestine.

Red flags about which patients must know are blood in stools or Loss or decreased appetite. In presence of these worrisome symptoms, one should consult a physician as soon as possible.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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