Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has an estimated worldwide prevalence of 9%-23%. Many people remain undiagnosed and unaware that their symptoms indicate a medically diagnosed disorder.
What is IBS?
The International Foundation for Function Gastrointestinal Disorders defines Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as a disorder in which abdominal discomfort or pain is associated with a range of symptoms. These symptoms usually include intermittent abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of both. IBS is a long term or recurrent gastrointestinal function disorder. IBS affects the large and small intestines motor function and sensation. The cause of IBS is not yet completely understood. Possible factors might include genetics, trauma, and infections. Altered patterns of motility and sensation in the colon seem to be caused by disrupted communication between the brain and gut.
What are the symptoms?
The disturbance can produce symptoms of abdominal pain or discomfort with diarrhea and/or constipation.The pain is often relieved by having a bowel movement and can be made worse by eating. Symptoms can flare up, or have periods when they disappear. Other symptoms include bloating or a feeling of fullness. Urgency to use the restroom and a feeling of incompletely passing stools. White or yellow mucous may be present in stool.
Diagnostics and Testing
IBS must be diagnosed by a physician who will assess your symptoms and make sure there is no other underlying condition. There are few test (if any) that can be performed to diagnose IBS. Most blood test and rectal/colon exams are done to rule out other serious illnesses.
Treatments for IBS
Treatment revolves around treating symptoms. You can follow and IBS diet and use a food diary which will help to find foods that worsen or bring on symptoms. Medications such as laxatives, antidiarrheals, antispasmodics and antidepressants may be utilized. Your doctor will help find the best treatment for you and your symptoms.
If you think you might have IBS you can visit the International Foundation for Function Gastrointestinal Disorders for more information. You can also take a confidential online survey that will aid in IBS studies.