Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What it is and how to cure it

Irritable bowel syndrome is not a disease, but rather a functional disorder of the large intestines. The problem lies mainly on the muscles of the colon, which affects is movement or peristalsis.

Occasionally, the peristaltic movement of the large intestines will be hyperactive. On other times, it will be slow and almost absent.

About 15% of Americans suffer from this condition, allotting to more than 3 million visits in the hospital in a span of one year.

What are the types of irritable bowel syndrome?

The types of irritable bowel syndrome are characterized according to the predominant bowel disorder.

* IBS-D:
this is the type of irritable bowel syndrome where the predominant condition is diarrhea. Because of overactive peristalsis, the large intestine fails to re-absorb water, leading to increased bulk

* IBS-C:
this is the type of IBS where constipation is the predominant condition. Underactive peristalsis forces the large intestines to re-absorb too much water from the stool. Because the stool loses its bulk and lubrication, the person would experience difficulty in passing stool.

* IBS-A:
this type of IBS is a combination of diarrhea and constipation. The peristaltic activity is spastic, meaning there would be hyperactivity resulting to diarrhea, or slow and minimal resulting to constipation.

this type is caused by a previous intestinal infection. People with IBS-PI have better prognosis compared to other types of irritable bowel syndrome.

What causes irritable bowel syndrome?

The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is still unknown. There are certain conditions that can trigger the onset of the syndrome.

Bear in mind that these triggers do not cause irritable bowel syndrome, but only make it worse.

* Food:
there are certain types of food that can trigger the condition to act up. Some food can cause diarrhea, while foods can cause constipation.

* Stress:
some find it that stressful conditions can aggravate the symptoms of IBS.

* Hormones:
women with IBS experience worsening of their conditions just before or during their period.

What are the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

A collection of gastrointestinal signs and symptoms signify the presence of IBS. These are:

* Abdominal distension or bloating
* Abdominal discomfort or abdominal cramps
* Reflux
* Increased urge to defecate
* Feeling that you have not totally emptied your bowel (tenesmus)
* Constipation and/or diarrhea
* Flatulence
* Presence of white mucous in the stool because the epithelium of the intestines is irritated.

Is irritable bowel syndrome curable?

As of now, since the cause is unknown, there is no definitive treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. The best thing that you can do is do some lifestyle modification to help you cope with your condition.

There are also some medications that you can take to help you control moderate to severe symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.


* Fiber supplements: these medications can help relieve constipation along with increased fluid intake.

* Anti-diarrheal medications: medications such as Loperamide are available over the counter without any prescription. This can help resolve an attack of diarrhea.

* Anticholinergic medications: if you are experiencing abdominal cramps, these medications will help lessen the spasm by having an effect in the autonomic nervous system.

Lifestyle modifications:

* If you are having problems with constipation, a diet high in fiber such as broccoli, wheat bread, and cereal.

* There are other people who experience aggravation of other gastrointestinal symptoms when they take certain foods. It is best to have a food diary to make sure that you will be able to trace what food caused your stomach to become upset.

* Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages, as well as food rich in caffeine.

* Increase your level of activity by having regular exercise. This will help minimize constipation as it promotes peristaltic movement.

* Instead of eating 3 large meals, practice eating small meals several times a day. This will lessen gastric irritation for your digestive system is not forced to go overtime in breaking down large amounts of food.

If you experience these signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, it is advised that you seek medical attention. It is most especially needed if you are suffering from dramatic changes in your bowel habits.

These changes can cause some major alteration in your daily activities and can lead to depression. Proper diagnosis is also needed as dramatic changes in bowel elimination can indicate colon cancer.

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Updated: February 25, 2014 — 4:22 am

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