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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

What is IBS ?
IBS, also called spastic colon or irritable colon, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by a chronic abdominal pain associated with alteration in bowel habits.

What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome ?
Symptoms include:
- Recurrent, colicky or cramping, abdominal pain which is relieved by defecation. 
- Constipation or diarrhea or both.
- Abdominal distention.
- Feeling of incomplete defecation.
- Mucus in stools.
- Urgency of defecation.

IBS can co-exist with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine, dyspareunia.

What can trigger IBS ?
Certain factors had be associated with triggering the onset of IBS, which are:
- Psychological stress and trauma.
- Sexual, verbal and physical abuse.
- Depression.
- Antibiotic therapy.
- Eating disorder.
- Gastroenteritis.

Irritable bowel syndrome is more common in females than in males.

How is the diagnosis of IBS made ?
In addition to the above symptoms, in an individual less than 40 years old, the following tests are done:
- Complete blood count.
- ESR (Erythrocyte sedimentation rate).
- Sigmoidoscopy: a sigmoidoscope is used by the doctor to examine the sigmoid colon, a part of the colon.

In older patients, colonoscopy is done to exclude the presence of colorectal cancer.

What is the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome ?
An important part of the treatment lies in the doctor's explanation of the nature of this condition to the patient. Stress should be abolished, otherwise can cause recurrence. So, reassurance plays a great role in the treatment of IBS.
Fiber supplements, as Metamucil or Citrucel, will help relief constipation.
The patient is advised to avoid caffeine, fatty foods and large meals. 
Tricyclic antidepressants are helpful as they help relief pain and diarrhea. Besides, they will help in controlling depression, which can co-exist with IBS.
Probiotics had showed a beneficial effect in patients with diarrhea and bloating. 
Specific women having IBS can benefit from these two drugs: Alosetron and Lubiprostone, for women having non-responsive diarrhea and non-responsive constipation respectively.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not progress to cancer or cause an inflammatory disease. Abolishing stress and anxiety forms the base of the treatment.

If you have any questions, you can post them in the comments.

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