Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that causes cramping and abdominal pain; as well as changes in the amount of time you use the bathroom (i.e. bowel movements). However, it’s important to distinguish IBS from inflammatory bowel disease (“IBD”). When you have IBS, the amount of times you have bowel movements is abnormal, however when you have IBD, such as ulcerative colitis, the structure of your stool is actually different.
No one knows for sure why people develop irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes it happens following an intestinal infection. Other times, the cause is less known.
Intestines are linked to the brain; meaning signals are bounced between the bowels and the brain. This signal linkage affects the bowel’s functions. In other words, the more stressed you are, the more active nerves turn, which can cause the intestines to become more sensitive. As a result, the intestines squeeze or contract more frequently.
Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t have a specific age range, but it often happens when you are a teenager, or as you are turning adult. It occurs in both men and women. In the United States, one in six people develop IBS. It is the one of the most common intestinal issues that sends people to a bowel specialist.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms
The symptoms for irritable bowel syndrome go from mild to severe but only very few people experience the severe symptoms. Also, no two IBS symptoms are completely similar. The most common symptoms for IBS are bloating, abdominal pain, and passing gas. Generally, the symptoms often fade away as you pass more stools.
People who have irritable bowel syndrome experience either diarrhea or constipation. Those with diarrhea go to the bathroom very frequently; it’s in fact an uncontrollable urge to pass a stool. On the other hand, people who are constipated find it difficult to pass stool. They often have to try very hard just to be able to pass a stool and often when they do; it’s only a tiny amount.
Some patients go thru worst symptoms for about month, and then see a decrease after that. But others, who are less fortunate, see the symptoms linger for a while longer. Another symptom of IBS is a loss of appetite.
Most of the time, your IBS symptoms are enough to tell your doctor you have the disorder. In other words, very few to no tests are often necessary. Eating a lactose-free diet for 2 weeks can help the doctor probe for possible deficiency in lactase.
IBS requires no specific test to be diagnosed. On the other hand, tests can be carried out to rule out other medical problems that cause abdominal pain, constipation and bloat-ness. Blood tests are used when you have celiac disease or to check for low blood count or anemia; and thru stool cultures, doctors can check for infections.
Some people will have a colonoscopy done. During this test, a flexible tube is inserted thru the anus to examine the colon. You may this, if your symptoms began after age fifty. If you have symptoms such as weight loss or blood loss thru stool, or if you develop anemia
Other conditions that can cause similar symptoms as the irritable bowel syndrome are celiac disease, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Colon cancer’s symptoms are only similar to IBS’s symptoms if you have blood in your stool, have anemia, or develop weight loss.
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