Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome, sometimes called spastic colon, usually affects a patient’s colon or large intestine. Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of the colon but not a disease. A patient with IBS can have a perfectly healthy colon.

A patient with irritable bowel syndrome experiences irregular and unnatural contractions of their colon. These abnormal contractions can be painful and uncomfortable and may lead to constipation or diarrhea. Air can also accumulate in your colon and produce cramping and bloating. Symptoms may not be constant and can come and go.

Irritable bowel syndrome usually affects patients under 40 years old. Sometimes, IBS symptoms can be triggered by certain foods such as caffeine, alcohol, raw fruits, vegetables, and milk products. However, the most common factor by far associated with IBS syndrome is stress. The actual cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown.

In order to determine whether you have irritable bowel syndrome, your doctor will perform several tests to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms. You may be asked to have lab tests, x-rays, or a visual examination of your lower intestines called a Colonoscopy. Once your physician can rule out the other diseases, IBS can usually be diagnosed.

One treatment for IBS is diet modification. Reduce or eliminate foods that cause symptoms of IBS. Don’t overeat. Increase the amount of fiber in your diet and consider taking a fiber supplement. Stress is also a factor so reduce stress where possible. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques can also help alleviate symptoms of IBS. In some cases, your physician will prescribe medications that can help relax the muscles in your colon and reduce the abnormal contractions.

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