By: Researcher Taymur
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 6-18% of people around the world.
The disorder entails changes in bowel movements intensity and shape and lower abdominal pain.
All symptoms may be caused by diet, stress, poor sleep and changes in gut bacteria.
Triggers are different for each individual, however, making it difficult to name specific foods or stressors that should be avoided by everyone with the condition.
This article discusses the most common IBS symptoms and what to do if you suspect you’ve got it.
The most common symptom and a key diagnostic factor is abdominal pain.
Your gut and brain are normally working together to control digestion. It happens by hormones, nerves and signals produced by the good bacteria in your gut.
These cooperative signals are distorted in IBS, resulting in uncoordinated and painful tension in the digestive tract muscles.
The pain usually occurs in the lower abdomen or the abdomen as a whole but is less likely to occur alone in the upper abdomen. After a bowel movement, pain typically decreases.
Changes in diet, such as a low FODMAP diet, can improve pain and other symptoms.
Certain therapies include calming of the intestine such as peppermint oil, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy.
A gastroenterologist can help you find a specifically proven medication to relieve IBS pain for pain that does not respond to these changes.
One of the three main types of condition is diarrhea-predominant IBS. This affects nearly one-third of IBS patients.
A survey of 200 adults found that those with diarrhea-predominant IBS had more than double the number of adults without IBS on average 12 bowel movements per week.
During IBS, rapid bowel movement can also lead to a sudden, intense desire to pass the bowel. For fear of a sudden onset of diarrhea, some patients describe this as a significant source of stress, even avoiding certain social situations.
Therefore, stool in the prevalent form of diarrhea appears to be loose and watery and may contain mucus.
Although it seems counterintuitive, both constipation and diarrhea can be caused by IBS.
The most common type of constipation-predominant IBS affects nearly 50% of people with IBS.
Altered communication between the brain and the intestine can speed up or slow down the stool’s normal transit time. The bowel absorbs more water from the stool when the transit time slows down, and it becomes more difficult to pass.
Constipation is defined as having less than three movements of the intestine per week.
Therefore “Functional” constipation describes non-explained chronic constipation from another disease. Because it is not, and is very normal, related to IBS. So functional constipation is different from IBS because it is not usually painful.
Because constipation in IBS, on the other hand, involves abdominal pain that makes bowel movements harder.
So constipation in IBS often also induces an incomplete bowel movement sensation. However this results in needless pressure.
Because exercise, drinking more water, consuming soluble fiber, taking probiotics, and the occasional use of laxatives can help along with the normal IBS treatments.
So constipation and diarrhea mixed or alternating affect about 20 percent of IBS patients.
Therefore IBS, diarrhea and constipation involve chronic abdominal pain that is recurrent. Because pain is the most important indication that changes are not related to diet or common, mild infections in bowel movements.
So with more frequent and extreme symptoms, this form of IBS appears to be more severe than the others.
However mixed IBS symptoms also vary more from person to person. So this disorder also involves an individualized treatment plan rather than guidelines for “one-size-fits-all.”
As the intestine absorbs water, slow-moving stool in the intestine is often dehydrated. It, in effect, produces hard stools that can intensify constipation symptoms.
Therefore prompt processing movement through the intestine leaves little time for water absorption and results in the typical loose stores of diarrhea.
Because IBS may also cause mucus to build up in stool that is not usually associated with other constipation causes.
However blood in stool can be a sign of another, potentially severe medical condition and is worth a visit to your doctor. Therefore blood in the stool may appear red, but with a tarry consistency it often appears very dark or black.
Changed IBS digestion leads to increased gas production in the intestine. This can cause painful bloating.
So many identify bloating with IBS as one of the disorder’s most persistent and nagging symptoms.
So 83 percent reported bloating and cramping in a study of 337 IBS patients. However these signs were more common in women as well as IBS and mixed forms of IBS predominant in constipation.
Therefore it may help to reduce bloating by avoiding lactose and other FODMAPs.
Up to 70 percent of people with IBS experience symptoms caused by specific foods.
Many foods are actively avoided by two-thirds of people with IBS. These individuals sometimes exclude from the diet multiple foods.
Because it is unknown why these foods cause symptoms. Such food intolerances are not allergies, and no observable changes in digestion are triggered by nutrition causes.
So for everyone, trigger foods are different, some common ones include gas-producing foods such as FODMAPs, as well as lactose and gluten.
Therefore less than half of IBS people report exhaustion. So 160 adults diagnosed with IBS described low endurance in one study that limited physical exercise in work, leisure, and social interactions. However another study of 85 adults found the severity of fatigue predicted by the intensity of their symptoms.
IBS is also associated with insomnia, which involves difficulty falling asleep, waking regularly, and morning feeling disturbance. 13 percent recorded poor sleep performance in a study of 112 adults with IBS.
However the analysis of 50 men and women showed that those with IBS feel less rested about an hour longer than those without IBS in the night. So ironically, the next day, poor sleep indicates more serious gastrointestinal symptoms.
IBS is also associated with anxiety and depression.
Because if IBS symptoms are a result of mental stress or whether the stress of living with IBS makes people more vulnerable to psychological problems is unknown.
So whatever comes first, in a vicious cycle, depression and gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS strengthen each other.
Therefore about 50 percent of people with IBS were more likely to have an anxiety disorder and about 70 percent more likely to have a mood disorder, such as depression, in a large study of 94,000 men and women.
In patients with and without IBS, another study compared levels of stress hormone cortisol. Those with IBS experienced greater changes in cortisol due to a public-speaking task, suggesting higher levels of stress. In addition, another study found that stress and symptoms of IBS were decreased by anxiety reduction therapy.
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