Questions and Answers about IBS Symptoms

Want is IBS?

The letters IBS stand for irritable bowel syndrome. The fact that it is a syndrome means that it is a group of symptoms. Some of the most prominent symptoms of IBS are gas, diarrhea, cramping, constipation, and abdominal pain.

What part of my body does IBS affect?

The colon is primarily affected by IBS. This is where stool is stored in the digestive tract. The interesting thing about IBS, is that it is actually a type of functional disorder, and not really a disease per se.

What causes IBS?

Frankly, the medical community is really not sure just what causes IBS. The bowel nerves and muscles are usually oversensitive in those afflicted with IBS. For example, your muscles may overreact when you are eating, causing the diarrhea and cramping often associated with IBS. It is also thought that the nerves become hyperactive, due to the stretching of the bowel. And this causes pain and discomfort, even cramps.

Despite being painful, IBS does not seriously damage either the other parts of the digestive system or the colon. Interestingly enough, it is thought that IBS also does not cause other health problems.

What are some of the main symptoms of IBS?

The first symptom that comes to mind, of course, is discomfort and abdominal pain that is either relieved or caused by a bowel movement. Another symptom is chronic diarrhea. Conversely, constipation can also be a symptom. And if some individuals there’s actually combination of both diarrhea and constipation. Some of the symptoms include a bloated or swollen stomach, white colored mucus in the stool, and feeling that the bowel movement has not been finished.

How can my doctor determine if I have IBS?

Usually, your physician will base their diagnosis on your symptoms. There are other more specific symptoms, named the Rome criteria, which can be used for a more accurate diagnosis. The most common medical tests used for IBS are:

Using G.I. series to diagnose Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is the lower gastrointestinal series that involves the use of a barium enema x-ray. A barium enema will be introduced into large intestine through your anus. The barium allows for better visualization of your intestines.

Use a colonoscopy study to diagnose Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is one test that most people are very familiar with and fear the most. Essentially, it involves the use of a colonoscope that is inserted via your anus and up into the colon. The colonoscope has a camera and tiny light on the end. The resulting picture is shown on a large television screen.

Are there any cures for IBS?

The good news is that while there are no known cures for IBS, it is a treatable condition. Some of the treatment options may be as follows:

  1. Change in dietary habits. Certain foods can aggravate IBS symptoms, and those should be avoided. French fries and coffee worsen IBS symptoms.
  2. Stress relieving strategies. Learning to decrease stress has been shown to have a positive effect on IBS symptoms.
  3. Medication regimens. There are medications that are specifically targeted at treating IBS symptoms, such as antidepressants, antispasmodics, and laxatives.

In the end, there may be some trial and error as your doctor tries to find the specific strategies to use in treating your IBS symptoms, successfully.

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