Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Overview

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic long term condition of the intestine characterized by constipation, diarrhea or both, along with abdominal cramps and bloating. It can be managed successfully by lifestyle and diet changes and assistance in stress management.

Causes

The mechanism behind IBS seems to be unclear. Some causes of IBS that have been suggested include:

  • Disturbed intestinal muscle contractions
  • Abnormalities in the nervous system controlling intestines
  • Inflammation within the intestine
  • Changes in the microbiota of the gut
  • Severe intestinal infection

Food, stress, and hormones are some factors that may act as triggers for IBS. Young females, especially those with a family history or an existing mental health problem are particularly at risk.

Symptoms

The symptoms of IBS are variable and can differ from person to person. Following are some examples:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps typically relieved after passing stool
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea or constipation (or both)
  • Mucus in stool

These symptoms may be periodic;  they can appear and increase in severity and frequency or disappear entirely from time to time.

Weight-loss, bloody diarrhea, persistent vomiting, and nausea or constant abdominal pain in association with the above-mentioned symptoms are a cause for concern and should be evaluated immediately.

Diagnosis

IBS cannot be diagnosed by a single specific test. A complete patient history, physical examination, and exclusion of all other possible disorders are required. If other intestinal disorders are suspected, tests like blood tests, stool analysis, endoscopies, CT scan, may be used.

Treatment

Implementing lifestyle & diet changes and managing stress effectively are two interventions recommended. Other methods by which symptoms of IBS can be relieved include:

  • Eliminating trigger food (high-gas food, gluten )
  • Fiber supplements
  • Laxatives
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Anti-depressant medication
  • Pain medication

Alosetron, Eluxadoline, Refluxamine , Lubiprostone, Linaclotide are some drugs that have exclusively been approved for IBS.

 

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