Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a long-term disorder of the intestines. IBS does not cause inflammation or more severe conditions.
The cause is unknown. In cases of IBS, the colon muscles do not function normally, and spasms occur. If you have IBS, the colon may be more sensitive and may react adversely to foods and medications. Allergies to foods and certain bacteria can be added to the symptoms. IBS can also appear after suffering from gastroenteritis.
- Sex: female
- Family members with IBS
- Age: usually begins in early adulthood
- Abuse (may be associated with IBS)
Signs and Symptoms
- Abdominal cramps
- Flatulence and distension
- Pain relieved by evacuation
- Liquid stools
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Urgency to evacuate again immediately after an evacuation
- Mucus in the stool
These factors can make your symptoms worse:
- Menstrual periods
- Abundant foods or fatty foods
- Excess gas
The doctor may give you the following tests to rule out other conditions:
- Physical tests
- Analysis of a stool sample to detect blood or evidence of inflammation
- Blood test
- Enema opaque
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
Treatment and Management
There is no cure for IBS. The treatment emphasizes controlling the symptoms.
The following diet changes can help control symptoms:
- Keep a food diary of what you eat and the way your body responds.
- Make gradual changes in the diet. Record the results.
- Avoid foods that have caused problems before. A nutritionist can help you replace foods.
- Eat smaller foods more often or smaller portions.
- Eat slowly and try not to swallow air.
- Drink a lot of water. This helps reduce constipation.
Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may prescribe:
- Antibiotics (rifaximin may relieve symptoms for several months)
- Spasmolytics (e.g., dicycloverine)
- Thickening agent with high fiber content (e.g., psyllium)
- Antidiarrheal (e.g., loperamide)
- Low doses of antidepressants
- Peppermint oil