Irritable bowel syndrome

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The the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that leads to abdominal pain and cramping, changes in bowel movements and other symptoms.

It is not the same as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In irritable bowel syndrome, the structure of the intestine is not abnormal.

It is not clear why patients have this syndrome, but sometimes, happens after an intestinal infection. This is called the post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome. There may also be other triggers.

The colon is connected to the brain. Signals come and go between the gut and the brain. These affect the bowel function and symptoms. Nerves can become more active during times of stress, which causes the intestines are more sensitive and are compressed, or shrink more.

This syndrome can occur at any age, but often begins in adolescence or early adulthood and is twice as common in women than in men.

Approximately 1 in 6 people in the States have symptoms of this syndrome. This condition is the most common intestinal problem that leads to that patients are referred to specialist in the intestine (gastroenterologist).

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and the majority of people have mild manifestations. In addition, they differ from one person to another.

The main symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are abdominal pain, fullness, gas and bloating that have been present for at least 3 days per month during the last 3 months. Pain and other symptoms frequently:

They will be reduced or disappear after a bowel movement.
They will occur when there is a change in the frequency of their droppings.
People with this syndrome may alternate between constipation and diarrhea or mostly have one or the other.

People with diarrhea will have frequent loose, watery stools. Frequently, they will experience an urgent need to have a bowel movement, which is difficult to control.
Those people with constipation will have difficulty for defecation, as well as less frequent bowel movements. These people frequently need to do strength and feel cramping with a deposition. Often, they do not eliminate nothing or only a small amount of fecal matter.
For some people, symptoms may worsen during a few weeks or a month and then decrease for some time. For others, the symptoms are present most of the time.

People with this syndrome may also have poor appetite.

Tests and examinations
Most of the time, your doctor can diagnose based irritable bowel syndrome in its symptoms, with few or no examination. Eat a lactose free diet for two weeks can help the doctor to evaluate a possible deficiency of lactase.

There is no test to diagnose this syndrome, but tests may be done to rule out other problems:

Blood tests to see if you have celiac disease or a blood count low (anemia).
Stool cultures to see if there is an infection.
Colonoscopy practice to some patients. During this test, a flexible tube for the year is introduced to examine the colon. You may need this test if:

The symptoms began later in life (after age 50).
It has symptoms such as weight loss or bloody stools.
You have abnormal blood tests (such as a low blood count).
Other disorders that may cause similar symptoms include:

Celiac disease
Colon cancer (Although cancer rarely causes symptoms typical of IBS, unless symptoms such as weight loss, blood in the stool or abnormal blood tests)
Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.

Changes in lifestyle can be useful in some cases of irritable bowel syndrome. For example, regular exercise and improving sleep habits can reduce anxiety and help to alleviate intestinal symptoms.

Changes in nutrition can help; However, in general cannot be recommended a specific diet for irritable bowel syndrome, since the condition differs from one person to another.

The following changes can help:

Avoid foods and drinks that stimulate the intestines, such as caffeine, tea or queues.
Avoid large meals.
Increase fiber in the diet (this can improve constipation, but worsens distention).
Consult your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications.

No medicine will work for all people. Medications that the doctor could test include:

Anticholinergic medications (diciclomina, propantelina, Belladonna and hyoscyamine) taken about half an hour before eating to control spasms of the muscles of the gut.
Bisacodyl to treat constipation.
Loperamide to treat diarrhea.
Low doses of tricyclic antidepressants to help relieve intestinal pain.
Lubiprostone for constipation symptoms.
Rifaximin, an antibiotic.
Therapy can help in cases of intense anxiety or depression.

Irritable bowel syndrome can be a condition of lifetime. For some people, the symptoms are disabling and reduced capacity to work, travel and attend social events.

Often, the symptoms may improve or alleviate through treatment.

This syndrome does not cause permanent damage to the intestines and does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer.

When to contact a medical professional
Consult your doctor if you have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or if you notice a change in bowel movements that won’t go away.

Alternative names
Irritable colon; Mucous colitis; Spastic colon; Spastic colitis

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