Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What You Need To Know

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome? 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common form of functional gastrointestinal disorder. It is more common in women than men and typically begins between 20 and 30.  

What are the Symptoms of IBS? 

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Abdominal pain and cramping 
  • Bloating 
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Mucus in your stool 

What Causes of IBS? 

IBS occurs when the muscles in the walls of your intestines contract faster or slower than usual. These contractions can cause food to move through your digestive tract too quickly or too slowly, which leads to diarrhea or constipation. IBS can also cause the nerves in your GI tract to be overly sensitive. When this happens, even slight changes in the motion of your intestines can trigger pain. The exact cause of IBS is unknown. But many factors may play a role: 

  • Genetics
  • Infection 
  • Increased sensitivity of the gut 
  • Changes in gut bacteria 

What are the Types of IBS? 

IBS affects people differently and can present different symptoms from person to person. Here are some of the most common forms of IBS: 

IBS-C (constipation-predominant)

People with IBS-C generally experience constipation, difficulty passing gas, and abdominal bloating. 

IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant) 

People with IBS-D tend to have loose stools, cramping, and a feeling of urgency when they need to use the bathroom. 

IBS-M (mixed diarrhea/constipation) 

This form of IBS is usually characterized by alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. 

How is IBS Diagnosed? 

IBS can be diagnosed using several different tests. The doctor may order blood tests to check for inflammation in the intestines, anemia, or other problems with the liver or pancreas. The doctor may also have you take a stool sample to look for bacteria or parasites, especially if you have diarrhea. The doctor may also do a colonoscopy or a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which involves inserting a thin tube with a light and camera on the end into the rectum and colon to see what’s inside. These tests are not used for diagnosing IBS but help rule out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms. 

How to Prevent IBS? 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is something that affects many people, but it’s easily preventable. By making some small adjustments to your lifestyle, you can be IBS-free and on your way to comfortable digestion! 

  • Refrain from eating spicy foods 
  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This helps to digest food more efficiently 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols such as maltitol and sorbitol 
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and caffeine 
  • Drink lots of water 

If you think you may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, be sure to consult a Gastroenterologist because it’s important to rule out any other possible causes of stomach pain and diarrhea first, as they could be harmful if they’re not treated properly.  

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