Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Complications IBS doesnt cause permanent damage to the GI tract, or lead to more severe illnesses such as cancer. It can, however, drastically affect quality of life. For example, the symptoms associated with the disorder may make it difficult to attend social functions, or be away from home for long periods of time. Moreover, many individuals with IBS suffer professionally because of workdays missed. According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals with IBS are three times as likely to take sick days. Libido may decrease because of IBS-related discomfort and pain. These symptoms may eventually lead to depression. Diagnosis & Tests Diagnosis of IBS is usually based on negative results of other tests since no specific test for the disorder exists. Examples of tests that may be performed include stool sample, blood test and colonoscopy, during which a tube with a small camera attached to the end is inserted in the anus. Including the symptoms described earlier, the following criteria, known as Rome criteria, are used to diagnose the disorder: abdominal pain in 12 weeks out of the year, disappearance of pain after a bowel movement, changes in the characteristics of bowel movements when pain appears, and urge to have a bowel movement. Treatments & Medications There is no cure for IBS but supplements and prescription drugs may manage symptoms.

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Irritable bowel syndrome

However, sometimes these problems can be disabling. In some cases, you may have severe signs and symptoms that don’t respond well to medical treatment. Because symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can occur with other more serious diseases, it’s best to discuss these symptoms with your doctor. For most people, IBS is a chronic condition, although there will likely be times when the signs and symptoms are worse and times when they improve or even disappear completely. When to see a doctor It’s important to see your doctor if you have a persistent change in bowel habits or if you have any other signs or symptoms of IBS. These may indicate a more serious condition, such as an infection or colon cancer. Your doctor may be able to help you find ways to relieve symptoms as well as rule out other more-serious colon conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease. Irritable bowel syndrome. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs/ibs.pdf. Accessed June 7, 2011. Kahn S, et al. Diagnosis and management of IBS.

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Common Stomach Bacteria

However, it can be a source of long-term pain, fatigue and some other symptoms, and contributes to work absenteeism. Fortunately, most patients find that symptoms improve as they become better at controlling their condition. Fortunately, only a small percentage of individuals with IBS have severe symptoms. IBS is regarded as a chronic illness that may have a considerably negative impact on the quality of life of the sufferer. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a diagnosis of exclusion (per exclusionem). In other words, a medical condition whose presence cannot be confirmed with complete confidence just by examination or testing. Diagnosis is therefore by elimination of other reasonable possibilities. There is no cure for IBS. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms, and includes dietary changes (avoiding caffeine, milk products, and sweeteners), relaxation techniques, medications and exercise. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, IBS is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions. Approximately 10% to 20% of the British population is affected by the condition at any one time. Some believe the figure may be considerably higher, because a significant number of patients do not see their doctor about it. Most commonly, IBS develops in individuals aged between 20 and 30 years; however, it may affect people of any age. Twice as many females as males are affected by IBS. According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary : Irritable bowel syndrome is “a condition characterized by gastrointestinal signs and symptoms including constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating, all in the absence of organic pathology. Associated with uncoordinated and inefficient contractions of the large intestine.” What are the signs and symptoms of IBS?

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