An Overview Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects millions of people, worldwide. It is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by the symptoms of abdominal cramp, abdominal pain, bloating and alternate diarrhoea or constipation. IBS is a chronic medical condition that needs long-term management. It affects the colon (large intestine). Most of the IBS cases are asymptomatic and the cause is idiopathic. Very few people with IBS are known to have signs and symptoms.

The symptoms of IBS can be managed effectively by eating healthy diet and curbing stress. However, many people may need counselling and medications. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not a life-threatening disease and it will not cause any complications like other disorders such as colon cancer, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

What are the causes?

The exact cause of IBS is idiopathic; however, a variety of factors can develop this condition. It is believed that people with IBS have some problem with contractions of abdominal muscles. Poor intestinal contractions can slow down the digestion process, leading to hard and dry stools. Another cause could be abnormality in the gastrointestinal nervous system. The triggering factors associated with IBS are –

  • Irregular diet
  • Stress
  • Underlying digestive disorder
  • Hormonal imbalance

Management of IBS

Since the cause of IBS is unknown, the treatment primarily focuses on relieving the sign and symptoms. Lifestyle changes can greatly help reduce and prevent the symptoms. One may need to eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and reduce stress in order to manage IBS. However, moderate to severe cases of IBS need medications and counselling. Medications include –

  • Anti-diarrhoeal drugs (to relieve diarrhoea)
  • Anti-spasmodic drugs (to reduce colicky pain or abdominal discomfort )
  • Antidepressants (to relieve depression caused by IBS)
  • Antibiotics (for bacterial infection)

In addition to these medicines, one should make some dietary changes by eliminating foods rich in gluten, carbs and gas. It is always better to consult a medical professional to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

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