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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.

Ischemic bowel disease

Ischemic bowel disease is a medical condition that occurs due to lack of blood flow to the intestines. This disease is seen mostly in older people. If the condition is mild, the disease may improve without treatment. But Ischemic bowel disease can result in an emergency situation in some cases. Ischemic bowel disease results from blocked or narrowed arteries. Tumors or blood clots can be the cause for reduced blood supply. Atherosclerosis is another cause for narrowed arteries.


Patients suffering form Ischemic bowel disease notice abdominal pain, after eating. There might be rectal bleeding in some cases. Symptoms of ischemic bowel disease include abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. The abdomen appears distended and there might be episodes of diarrhea. Certain conditions such as colon cancer, diabetes, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease and sickle cell cancer can increase a person's risk of developing Ischemic bowel disease.


Diagnosis can be done based on abdomen x-rays and colonoscopy. Angiography of the arteries supplying blood to the bowel helps in detecting the severity of the condition. Antibiotics help in minimizing the infection. Surgery is resorted to in severe cases.


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.
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 22, 2019