Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional disorder that prevents the colon (large intestine) from functioning normally and causes great discomfort and pain, changes in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhoea), gassiness and bloating. IBS is not life-threatening as it does not lead to permanent damage to the colon, intestinal bleeding or serious complications such as cancer.

There is no exact cause of IBS.

There are other risk factors that increase the chance of suffering from IBS, these include:

  • A family history of IBS
  • Stressful life
  • Infection or inflammation of the gut

The symptoms of IBS can vary greatly among affected individuals, ranging from mild to disabling conditions as follows:

  • Changes in consistency of stools (small hard pellets or loose stools)
  • Changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Feeling of urgency for bowel movement
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation
  • Mucus in the stools
  • Gas in the abdomen
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pain or cramps in the abdomen
  • Be aware that these symptoms are similar to those of colon cancer. People with the mentioned conditions are advised to consult doctors for evaluation.

Less common symptoms of IBS include fatigue, backache, headache, sweating, nausea, vomiting and pain in bowel movement.

There is no cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Treatment options consist of relieving symptoms and avoiding risk factors that trigger the onset of IBS. Doctors will suggest the best treatment plan for patients ranging from a combination of the followings:

  • Activities and medication to keep your stress in check
  • Dietary changes that include:
    • avoiding alcohol, fatty foods, chocolate and caffeinated drinks
    • eating a lot of fruits and vegetables to increase fibre intake
    • taking small meals
  • Medication to help alleviate constipation, diarrhoea or abdominal pain and cramps
  • Social engagements avoidance
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Worsening of Piles

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