An intestine related disorder, IBS (or Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is characterized by painful bowel movements and stomach upset. The cause behind this very common condition is unknown, and the diagnosis is usually made based on the symptoms it exhibits. The symptoms of IBS include bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. Triggers of this condition are excessive stress, poor eating habits, frequent hormonal changes etc.
HOW IS IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME DIAGNOSED?
Some of the tests used to diagnose IBS are colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that refers to group of symptoms persisting for years like abdominal pain and alters the pattern of bowel regimes without any evidence of further underlying damage. Irritable bowel syndrome may be classified into four main types:
• IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
• IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
• IBS with both diarrhea and constipation (IBS – M)
• IBS in which neither diarrhea or constipation is common (IBS-U)
The specific causes of Irritable bowel syndrome are yet to be identified. A few of its conjectured causes include:
• Acute gastrointestinal infection.
• Prolonged fever.
• Stress and/or psychiatric illness.
• Physical and psychological abuse during childhood.
• Excessive bacterial or fungal growth in the small intestine.
• Protozoal infection.
In general, irritable bowel syndrome has the following characteristics:
• Abdominal pain and discomfort
• Change in bowel habits
• Urgency for bowel movement
• Bloating and abdominal distention
• Chronic fatigue, headaches and anxiety
Other conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), giardiasis and colon cancer all manifest similar symptoms of abdominal pain and abnormal bowel movement. Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome therefore presents some practical difficulties.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease usually occurs in the large intestine and may affect:
• The rectum causing rectal bleeding,
• The rectum and the lower end of the colon causing bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and tenesmus (inability to excrete the stool completely),
• The left side of the colon causing severe colon pain, cramping, bloody diarrhea and weight loss,
• The entire colon causing extreme abdominal cramps and colon pain besides fever, inability to eat, diarrhea and weight loss.
IBS patients may benefit from a special kind of diet to help manage the symptoms. The Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet includes:
• Low FODMAP diet: Minimizing the intake of Fermentable Oligo- Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols helps control the symptoms of IBS as well as IBD effectively.
• Soluble Fibre: Consuming soluble fibre helps to increase the volume of the stool making defecation easier.
• Medication: Laxatives are prescribed to soften the stool. In severe cases, morphine and oxycodone may also be administered. Antispasmodics are helpful against cramps and diarrhea.
Psychological therapies and stress relief may also be suggested to patients in whom IBS is caused as a result of psychological complexities. Peppermint oil, yoga focusing on the lower abdominal region and acupuncture can also be useful in certain cases.
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