Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a common condition involving the gut. IBS is actually a functional disorder which means that there is nothing wrong with the structure of the intestinal tract, even when inspected under a microscope. The real trouble is with the functioning of the gut although everything about it appears physically normal.
To date, no one really knows what causes irritable bowel syndrome exactly. What medical experts know, however, are the various symptoms and treatments which will be discussed later on. They also know that this condition can strike any person at any age, although it is likely to develop during young adulthood. IBS is also said to be slightly more common in women than men. No matter who it strikes, this gut condition is usually long-term.
Suspected Causes of IBS
Just like what’s mentioned earlier, the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is yet to be known. Experts suspect that IBS may be due to the increased activity of certain parts of the digestive tract. The contractions are what cause pain in people suffering from IBS. Also, the areas with increased activity determine whether diarrhea or constipation ensues.
The following are some of the things which may be blamed for the increased activity of certain parts of the gut:
- Emotional stress. For some people, the onset of IBS could be traced during a stressful event in their lives. In addition, symptoms of the condition tend to be worsened by stress or anxiety.
- Food intolerance. Many blame certain foods for their IBS. However, experts say that food intolerance may be blamed for only a small number of irritable bowel syndrome cases.
- Excessive pain sensitivity. It is said that some sufferers of IBS are simply more sensitive to the sensations taking place as the gut expands.
- Bacterial infection. There are times when the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome show up after the individual suffering from it gets diarrhea or an infection of the stomach known as gastroenteritis.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Some of the common symptoms shared by IBS sufferers include the following:
- Abdominal pain. This may be experienced in varying parts of the belly area. The pain, commonly described by those with IBS as spasms, may vary in intensity and may come and go. Relief is usually felt after passing stool or gas.
- Bloating in the abdomen. Sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome are prone to excessive gas formation, and this is what causes them to have bloated bellies.
- Changes in bowel and bowel habits. Some people with IBS suffer from constipation while others may have diarrhea. It’s possible for the sufferer to have bouts of alternating constipation and diarrhea. The stool may sometimes be mixed with mucus, but the presence of blood is certainly not a sign of irritable bowel syndrome. Some people may have the urge to go to the toilet quickly and frequently.
Other symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome include: tiredness, fatigue, headache, heartburn, frequent belching, backache, muscle pains, loss of appetite and feeling full quickly during mealtimes.
Tests for the Gut Condition
Unfortunately, there is no test designed to determine whether or not an individual is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. The diagnosis will be based by the doctor on the signs and symptoms.
Stool or blood sample test is usually carried out. This is done to rule out any other medical condition that may present the same sign and symptoms of IBS, such as: Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, digestive tract infections and ovarian cancer. There are instances when a gastroscopy (the visual inspection of the digestive tract using a long and flexible camera) may have to be done.