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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Irritable Bowel disease is a condition that affects nearly 20% of the adult American population. While most of the time, the causes for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are mild, in rare cases, it may be indicative of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. It is noticed that women are more prone to develop IBS than men, leading to the belief that hormonal changes may have a bearing on the condition. IBS involves a functional disorder of the large intestine. It usually has no structural or biochemical causes.


Typical symptoms that affect persons suffering from irritable bowel syndrome are gas (flatulence), bloating and mucus/blood in stool. Constipation or diarrhea is also noticed. The patient suffers from cramps. Other symptoms can range from fever and nausea to weight loss and vomiting of bile. In most cases of irritable bowel syndrome, the symptoms are mild. But in chronic cases of IBS, the symptoms are persistent and can affect the quality of the life of the patient. It is noticed that stress, medications, certain foods or stimuli may trigger the IBS symptoms. Some persons notice worsening of symptoms on consumption of milk, alcohol, chocolates or dairy products. Gastroenteritis can trigger an attack of irritable bowel syndrome.


A gastroenterologist can help you diagnose and treat this condition with dietary changes and medication. Stool studies, functional assessment of the GI tract and colonoscopy can aid in screening for IBS. Colonoscopy involves examination of the colon with a small flexible tube. This helps to rule out ulcerative colitis or colorectal cancer. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasalazine and antibiotics such as metronidazole can attack the germs in the intestine. Anti-diarrheal medication, laxatives or painkillers can provide relief from symptoms of irritable bowel disease. Dietary changes that are likely to be prescribed include eating at regular times, drinking plenty of water, restricting fatty foods and reducing dairy products. Moderate exercise is also helpful. Gradual increase in fiber content in the diet provides relief for many. Fiber supplements are sometimes prescribed. Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease must be treated differently.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is not contagious, inherited or cancerous. Neither does it mean that there is a problem with the structure of the intestine. If the muscle movement in the intestine is not normal or if there is a lower tolerance for stretching and movement of the intestine, the muscle contractions may become too hard. This affects the elimination of waste out of the body. At this stage, the individual suffers cramps in the abdomen area, abdomen bloat and constipation or may develop diarrhea.


Symptoms of IBS

Primary symptoms: Abdominal pain, abdominal swelling or bloating, bowel irregularities, constipation or diarrhea or alternative bouts of diarrhea and constipation. Almost all irritable bowel syndrome sufferers who seek medical help have these primary symptoms.

Secondary symptoms: Feeling full or loss of appetite, feeling of nausea, heartburn and indigestion. There are instances where IBS sufferers have bladder problems.

Mental symptoms: Anxiety, depression, emotional distress, irritability and tiredness.

Triggers for Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Individuals with a family history of IBS are susceptible.
  • Also those who have chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and temporomandibular disorder.
  • People with panic disorder or any other psychological condition. Due to emotional stress and anxiety the nerves of the bowels may be affected.
  • Certain medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, antacids and painkillers can lead to constipation or diarrhea.
  • Food or substances can trigger spasms in people. For example, milk products consumed by lactose-intolerant people, fatty foods, carbonated drinks, corn and wheat can make digestion difficult leading to constipation.
  • Gastrointestinal infection will result in frequent bowel symptoms even days or months after the infection has been treated.

Tackling Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Avoid foods high in fat.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables suitable for your digestion.
  • Eat well before bedtime.
  • Drink 6-8 classes of water. Helps digestive system to work better.
  • Change from 3 larger meals to 6 small meals a day.
  • Learn to eat slowly. Chew food well before swallowing.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages. Causes gas and discomfort.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The cause for pelvic pain is often difficult to diagnose. Tissues around the pelvic organs might suffer increased or reduced sensitivity or irritation leading to pain in the area. Pelvic floor disorders can manifest as urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence. Typical pelvic disorders include interstitial cystitis, pelvic inflammatory disease or digestive disorders such as diverticulitis and colitis. Cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic congestion and Vulvovaginitis> are other pelvic conditions that lead to pelvic pain. Infections, pregnancy and childbirth, incorrect posture, trauma or surgery can lead to pain in the pelvic area.


Symptoms in Women


  • Frequent urination with incomplete sensation
  • Pelvic pain
  • The feeling of incomplete bowel movement
  • Vaginal or rectal prolapse (sagging of the vagina or rectum)
  • Rectocele (protrusion of the rectum into the vagina)
  • Cystocele ( herniation of the bladder into the vagina)
  • Enterocele (a herniation of the intestine into the vagina)
  • Sigmoidocele (a herniation of the sigmoid colon into the vagina)


Symptoms in Men:


  • Urgency and frequency in urination
  • Pain in testes and pain on ejaculation
  • Reduced urinary flow
  • Levator Ani Syndrome (pressure and pain in the sacrum)
  • Constipation or strain during bowel movement

For constipation, low dose muscle relaxants are prescribed. Lifestyle changes in diet and physical activity are recommended. Rectal prolapse and rectocele may be treated through surgery. Cold laser involving a process wherein low-intensity laser light is applied to the tissue easing the pain and inflammation.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 18, 2017