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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a problem that affects the large intestine. It can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and a change in bowel habits. Some people with the disorder have constipation. Some have diarrhea. Others go back and forth between the two. Although IBS can cause a great deal of discomfort, it does not harm the intestines.

IBS is common. It affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than 45 years. No one knows the exact cause of IBS. There is no specific test for it. Your doctor may run tests to be sure you don't have other diseases. These tests may include stool sampling tests, blood tests, and x-rays. Your doctor may also do a test called a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Most people diagnosed with IBS can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, probiotics, and medicine.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following features are indicative of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
  • abdominal pain or cramping
  • bloated feeling
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • mucus in the stool
It is possible that Irritable Bowel Syndrome shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following are the most common causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
  • abnormalities in the gastrointestinal nervous system

Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
  • people under age 45
  • have a family history of irritable bowel syndrome
  • mental health problem

Prevention of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • intake of fiber supplements
  • do progressive relaxation exercise
  • deep breathing

Occurrence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Irritable Bowel Syndrome cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Not common between 50K - 500K cases

Common Age Group

Irritable Bowel Syndrome most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 35-50 years

Common Gender

Irritable Bowel Syndrome can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: To examine the lower part of the colon
  • X-ray (radiography): To obtain an image of the colon
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: To produce cross-sectional X-ray images of internal organs
  • Stool tests: To examine the stool for bacteria or parasites

Doctor for Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
  • Gastroenterologist

Complications of Irritable Bowel Syndrome if untreated

Yes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Irritable Bowel Syndrome is left untreated:
  • hemorrhoids
  • impact overall quality of life

Self-care for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
  • Eliminating high-gas foods: Decreases the chances of disease
  • Eliminating gluten food: Shows improvement in diarrhea symptoms
  • Eat at regular times: Try to eat about the same time each day
  • Drink plenty of liquids: Try to drink plenty of fluids every day
  • Exercise regularly: Stimulates normal contractions of the intestines

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
  • Acupuncture therapy: Improves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hypnosis therapy: Reduce abdominal pain and bloating
  • Intake probiotic supplements: Eases the symptoms
  • Regular exercise: Do regular exercise to maintain physical and mental health
  • Do meditation: Reduces the stress on intestine
  • Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy: Relax the muscles in the colon

Patient Support for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The following actions may help Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients:
  • Counseling: Helps in reducing the chances of worsening the symptoms
  • Learn about IBS: Helps you take better charge of it
  • Seek out others with IBS: Join IBS support groups on the Internet or in your community

Time for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Irritable Bowel Syndrome to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 3 months

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Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

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