Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common chronic condition affecting the large intestine, or colon. People with this disorder may also be affected by either diarrhea or constipation. Some people may suffer from both, moving from a state of constipation to diarrhea or vice versa.
Symptoms may include changes in bowel habits in addition to the following:
A diagnosis of IBS is based on the duration and frequency of signs and symptoms. Your doctor may diagnose this condition through a selection of blood tests, stool samples, and X-rays. You may also have to undergo a colonoscopy.
Researchers have yet to single out an exact cause of IBS. Instead, they point to a number of contributing factors. Typically, the intestinal walls are lined with muscles that follow a rhythm of contracting and relaxing as food moves from the stomach, along the intestinal tract, to the rectum.
With IBS, these contractions may be more intense and longer-lasting, causing bloating, gas, and diarrhea. On the contrary, these contractions may be overly weak and cause food to pass slowly and back up, resulting in harder stools.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may be worsened by triggers, including certain foods, hormonal changes, stress, and other illnesses.
Treatment for irritable bowel syndrome is directed at minimizing the symptoms and increasing a patient’s quality of life. Medications have been shown to improve the symptoms of IBS, including pain medication, anti-diarrheal medications, and fiber supplementation. However, many traditional and naturopathic doctors recommend an overall lifestyle change to control symptoms with improvements in diet, depression relief, and stress management.
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