Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of intestinal symptoms characterized by constipation, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and gas. Although the exact cause of IBS is unknown, it may be linked to an individual having a sensitive immune system or colon.
Women and young people are mostly affected by the condition. Minor symptoms are present in some IBS sufferers. Others, however, experience serious symptoms that interfere with their quality of life.
Symptoms of IBS
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and gas
Individuals with IBS frequently experience periods of both diarrhea and constipation. Gas and bloating symptoms normally disappear following a bowel movement. Symptoms of IBS don’t always last a long time. They can disappear but then return. Some patients do however experience ongoing symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact cause of IBS is not known, but there are risk factors that may lead one to develop the condition. These include:
- Severe infection: IBS may appear after a severe case of diarrhea brought on by germs or a virus. This is known as gastroenteritis. There may be a connection between IBS and bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.
- Changes in gut microbes: These include modifications to the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that are normally found in the intestines and are important for maintaining gut health.
- Muscle contractions in the intestine: Gas, bloating, and diarrhea that result in stronger and longer than typical contractions might hinder the passage of food, and result in dry, hard stools.
- Nervous system: An individual’s body may overreact to normal changes in the digestive process if the brain and gut signals are not properly synchronized. This may lead to pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
In most cases, IBS is triggered by:
- Stress: Most individuals who suffer from IBS find that times of elevated stress make their symptoms worse or more frequent.
- Food: Certain foods such as wheat, dairy products, citrus fruits, beans, cabbage, milk, and carbonated drinks may trigger IBS.
Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The doctor will diagnose IBS based on the patient’s symptoms. He/she may take one or more of the following steps to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.
- Have a stool sample examined to rule out infection
- Have the patient adopt a particular diet for a given period of time to rule out any food allergies
- Having blood tests performed to rule out celiac disease and check for anemia
- Perform a colonoscopy
Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Treatment for IBS is aimed at relieving the symptom because there is no exact cure for the condition. The doctor may in the initial stages have the patient make certain lifestyle changes. Usually, these natural solutions are recommended before any medication is prescribed.
Home Remedies for IBS
- Eating smaller meals
- Minimizing stress
- Frequent participation in physical exercises
- Limiting caffeinated beverages because caffeine stimulates the intestines
- Avoiding spicy foods
- Taking probiotics which will help relieve gas and bloating