Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder that affects gastrointestinal functioning causing discomfort or pain in the abdomen which is relieved by a poop. Even though it is a chronic condition, the symptoms may improve or worsen at different times as a result of food, stress, menstruation and other illnesses.

What causes bowel syndrome?
Many people believe stress causes irritable bowel syndrome. However, this is not true. The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not known. Symptoms may result from a disturbance in the way the gut, brain, and nervous system interact. This can cause changes in normal bowel movement and sensation.
Individuals are more likely to develop IBS who have:

  • a family history of IBS
  • a past intestinal infection
  • stressful life event

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may include:

  • Abdominal cramping and pain that is relieved by having a poop
  • Alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation
  • Urgency
  • Flatulence (passing of gas)
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Abdominal bloating

Please seek medical attention if you have any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Weight Loss
  • Pain or diarrhea that disrupts your sleep
  • Blood in stools
  • Black or tarry stools
  • Vomiting

How is irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed?
Since irritable bowel syndrome does not cause any obvious abnormalities in your digestive system there are no specific tests for it. In a majority of the cases, a diagnosis will be based on whether or not you have the typical symptoms of IBS which include:

  • Stomach pain or cramping that may be relieved by a poop
  • Change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or both
  • Bloating of your stomach
  • Flatulence – excessive gas
  • Urgent need to go to the toilet
  • Feeling of not fully emptying your bowels after going to the toilet
  • Mucus in stool

How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?
Irritable bowel syndrome treatment may include:

  • Lifestyle changes – such as decreasing stress
  • Medications – such as antispasmodics, antidiarrheal and laxatives
  • Probiotics
  • Counseling – hypnosis and relaxation training

AboutIBS – IBS
AboutIBS – probiotics and antibiotics

REMINDER: This information is intended to provide general information and should not be used to base a diagnosis or treatment. Please consult the doctors about your specific condition and the approach for treatment.