Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a very common disorder of the digestive tract. While its exact cause is unknown, several key facts are known about IBS. Namely, though often annoying and sometimes painful, IBS is not considered a serious disease. Like every other part of the body, the intestines are full of nerves. Sometimes, those nerves become over or under active and cause symptoms.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Changing bowel habits - Many people who suffer from IBS having alternating diarrhea and constipation, while others have predominantly one or the other.
Many have a sensation incomplete emptying, or still feel stool in their bowels even after having a bowel movement.
Abdominal pain Ė While abdominal pain can be a symptoms of many disorders, those who suffer from IBS often have recurrent pain (over years). Unlike the case in several other common conditions that cause abdominal pain, the pain with IBS often decreases after having a bowel movement.
Frequent bloating or gas.
Mucus flecks in the stool.
What things trigger bouts of IBS?
For many, the symptoms are triggered by stress. For others, certain foods and medications bring it on. Many ladies with IBS notice symptoms around their menstrual cycles. Different things bring on symptoms in different people, so it is important to take note of potential triggers to learn what to avoid.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that there is not test that diagnoses the condition. On the contrary, routine diagnostic tests of the colon, such as colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, are unremarkable. They do not demonstrate any abnormality when the true diagnosis is IBS.
What things can I do to decrease the frequency and severity of IBS?
Drinking several cups of warm water each day helps many people. While it may take time to get used to sipping warm water, over time you get used to it (especially if you are one of the people who benefits tremendously from this practice). You can always add a smidgen of honey to the water if you just canít stand drinking warm water.
Pay close attention to your triggers. If stress is a major trigger for you, avoid it! Exercise regularly and avoid stress-provoking situations. Make a plan to tackle stressful situations differently. For instance, if the first part of your work day is packed with returning e-mails or answering phone calls, come in a half hour early to take the edge off that hectic time. If your main trigger is a certain type of food, donít eat it or eat smaller amounts. By listening to your body, you can learn what you can and cannot do comfortably. Common dietary triggers are caffeine, alcohol, fat, dairy products, and preserved foods. Even smoking cigarettes can bring on the symptoms in some people.
If lifestyle modifications donít work for you, your doctor can always prescribe medication to help you get through your rough times. Like with all illnesses, it is best to see your doctor for an expert opinion before you assume you have a condition and try to treat yourself.
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