What is irritable bowel syndrome or IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a combination of different intestinal symptoms that occur together. The severity and duration of these symptoms varies from person to person. These symptoms last at least for three months and may occur at least three days every month.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a different condition from inflammatory bowel disease. Studies show that women are more prone to getting irritable bowel syndrome than men.

Other names for irritable bowel syndrome are: spastic bowel, nervous colon, mucous colitis, spastic colon and IBS colitis.

What are the types of irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome can be divided into four types:

1. IBS with diarrhoea

2. IBS with constipation

3. Mixed IBS (which means it alternates between diarrhoea and constipation)

4. Unsubtyped IBS (for people whose IBS doesn’t fits into above mentioned types)

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

Following are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Cramps or pain in the belly
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Swelling on belly
  • The feeling that you haven’t finished a bowel movement completely
  • Mucus in the poop
  • Food intolerance
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent headaches

Symptoms of IBS in some cases come and go away, while for some people they may be continuous.

Women suffering from IBS start having symptoms as soon as their menstruation time comes in or their symptoms intensify around that time.

See a Gastroenterologist in Islamabad if you have one or all of the above mentioned symptoms because symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome don’t go away on their own they need to be treated.

What are the causes of irritable bowel syndrome?

The exact causes of irritable bowel syndrome are still unknown. But some common problems that experts think play a role in causing irritable bowel syndrome are:

  • Bacterial infections in the gut
  • An increase or change in the type of bacterial growth in your small intestine
  • Food intolerances or sensitivities
  • Genes (some people may get irritable bowel syndrome transferred from their family)
  • Mental disorders like depression and anxiety
  • Stressful life events like physical or sexual abuse

Which foods are off limits for people with irritable bowel syndrome?

Here is a list of some common foods that people with irritable bowel syndrome should avoid:

1. Insoluble fiber

2. Dairy

3. Gluten

4. Fried items

5. Legumes and beans

6. Chocolate

7. Sugar free sweeteners

8. Processed foods

9. Caffeinated drinks

10. Alcohol

11. Cauliflower and broccoli

12. Onions and garlic

How can irritable bowel syndrome be diagnosed?

Generally there are no specific lab tests that can diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. But the Gastroenterologist in Lahore will match your symptoms with the definition of IBS and run following tests to know if you have irritable bowel syndrome or not:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Endoscopy
  • X Rays
  • Stool tests
  • Bloods tests to diagnose anemia
  • Blood tests to diagnose problems in your thyroid gland
  • Blood tests to diagnose gluten or lactose intolerance
  • Tests to diagnose problems within your bowel muscles

How can irritable bowel syndrome be treated?

Generally there is no specific treatment for irritable bowel syndrome but all people with IBS can be helped if their symptoms are relieved.

And since many things can trigger irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, doctors suggest experimenting with cutting off certain foods and drinks from the diet to know what your triggers are. Once you know your triggers you can switch to a diet that is free of them to avoid getting any discomforting IBS symptoms.

Some lifestyle changes that go a long way in treating IBS symptoms are:

  • Limiting the intake of dairy products
  • Quitting smoking
  • Getting indulged in physical activities
  • Drinking at least 7 to 8 glasses of water
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Avoiding caffeine

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