Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Symptoms, Causes and Treatments for People Suffering from IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that causes slight to severe pain in the abdomen, bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhea. While never fatal, IBS makes life unbearable to sufferers.
This common disorder affects one in five people aged between 25 and 45, but can strike at any time and women suffer from this disorder more than men.
While the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, some theorize that people suffering from this disease have intestines that contain a weakness to stress or become irritated by certain foods such as caffeine.
External factors such as stress as well as irregular eating habits coupled with a lack of dietary fiber may enhance chances of suffering the effects of IBS.
Many cases of IBS have followed an outbreak of an infection in the intestines and food poisoning. People who have spent time in underdeveloped or developing countries who adopted poor eating habits may also become prone to IBS.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It’s important to remember that while some symptoms of IBS may resemble more disturbing illnesses, IBS does not develop into colon cancer if left untreated and it does not permanently damage the intestines.
Symptoms vary with each case. The most common symptoms include bloating, cramping in the abdomen, and alternating constipation or diarrhea. Sufferers of IBS are often bothered with frequent bouts of constipation followed by irregular bowel movements and diarrhea.
People suffering from IBS often report straining or forcing to perform a bowel movement with little to no desired effect. When they do pass a stool it may be covered in mucus, the fluid that moistens and protects the delicate passages of the digestive system. Stools are often irregular in either color or shape.
Most sufferers of IBS experience tense moments when they suffer consistently for several days to weeks followed by moments when everything seems to work perfectly. Others may feel an overwhelming urgency to have bowel movements.
Other possible symptoms of IBS that aren’t restricted to the abdominal area include tiredness, headaches and backaches as well as urinary or gynecological problems. People suffering from depression sometimes develop IBS. Likewise, those suffering from IBS often become depressed.
Bleeding from the rectum, rapid weight loss, and persistent and severe pain in the abdomen or elsewhere are not symptoms of IBS. They may be indicators of a much more serious condition such as inflammation or colon cancer and should be attended to by a trained physician as soon as possible
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatments

People who think they have IBS should consult their family doctor. Offer the medical professional as much information as possible that allow him to rule out any other possibilities.
Doctors may prescribe stool and blood tests as well as x rays or perform a colonoscopy, a procedure by which a camera is inserted into the intestine via the anus to examine the colon. If all these tests come back negative he will then diagnose IBS.
IBS is inoperable and once developed, IBS may occur throughout life. Sufferers can modify the things they eat that trigger the onset. Medication can relieve abdominal pain and sufferers of constipation should increase the intake of fiber and drink more fluids to moisten the intestines, allowing for smoother bowel movements. Laxatives can be a temporary solution.
Other solutions include:
Avoid large meals
Increase the amount of fiber either through eating more fruit and vegetables or through supplements.
Keep a food journal to discover which foods give negative reactions
Discuss findings with a doctor.
Seek the help of a dietitian to assist in making healthy food choices that won’t cause outbreaks of IBS.
Reduce the intake of caffeine found in drinks such as sodas, coffee and tea.
It’s also important to reduce stress, conflict and emotional upset as they lead to enhanced IBS symptoms.
Take time to relax. Allow the body to adjust over time rather than indulge in tempting quick fixes. Laxative may help ease the pain, but until the root of the problem is discovered, IBS will continue.
Lifestyle and dietary change won’t cure IBS but eating healthier, performing stress reducing activities such as brisk walking and yoga as well as meditation and adequate sleep will help reduce the outbreaks of this painful and debilitating affliction.