Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition affecting the intestines. The condition causes abdominal pain, cramping or bloating, constipation and diarrhea. This is a long-term condition but there are measures that can help minimize the symptoms.
Remember that the symptoms worsen or settle from day to day, but the condition will not worsen over time and will not cause more serious diseases.
What are the causes?
It is still unclear on what precisely causes irritable bowel syndrome. The cause might vary from one individual to another. It can be triggered by issues on how the signals are transmitted between the brain and the digestive tract, issues in digesting certain foods, anxiety or stress. Individuals with the condition might have sensitive intestines or issues on how the muscles of the intestines move.
In some individuals, certain foods, hormonal changes, stress and some antibiotics might instigate pain and other symptoms.
The characteristic symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are abdominal pain with diarrhea or constipation. The other usual symptoms include mucus in the stool, bloating and a feeling of not fully emptying the bowels.
Many individuals with the condition have alternating diarrhea and constipation. In most cases, one of these occur more often than the other.
It is important to note that irritable bowel syndrome is relatively common but the symptoms can be mild that a doctor is not seen for treatment. Some might have troublesome symptoms particularly bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
How is it diagnosed?
In most cases, the doctor will diagnose the condition based on the symptoms. The doctor will ask about the symptoms, health history and conduct a physical exam.
Other tests might be required in some instances such as a blood test or stool analysis.
The treatment for irritable bowel syndrome typically includes modifications to the diet and lifestyle such as avoidance of foods that trigger the symptoms, proper management of stress and regular exercise.
In case lifestyle and dietary changes are not effective, the doctor might prescribe medications for the symptoms such as pain, constipation or diarrhea. These tests are used by the doctor to rule out other issues that might be responsible for the symptoms.