Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Symptoms, Types, Causes, Prevention, Treatment

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Among the various diseases and health conditions that are commonly found in humans, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects millions of people every day. It is a very common yet complex condition that is related to the digestive health of the individual. However, you must have valuable insight into this condition as you don’t know when and where you might face this situation. So, understanding the signs and symptoms and ways to treat them is important to foster awareness about this illness.

Common Symptoms Associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

There are two major symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome that are commonly seen in individuals suffering from this condition- abdominal pain or discomfort and altered bowel habits. Altered bowel habits include situations like gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea. However, these symptoms are associated with various other diseases, hence making it difficult to diagnose and manage IBS. The individual who is suffering from IBS may show one or more of these symptoms, and it may vary from one person to another. Determining the signs of IBS is the first step to seeking medical attention as guidance, as ignoring it can make the illness severe.

What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome

How Many Types Of IBS Are There?

Certainly, different types of irritable bowel syndrome are often diagnosed in people and are often based on the symptoms that they display. Here are the four most common types of IBS that make people suffer the most.

IBS with constipation (IBS-C): This is the condition when you experience hard or lumpy stools and have a hard time with your bowel movements. This often happens when you are infrequent to washroom visits which is caused by improper indigestion.

IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D): The condition when you visit the washroom very frequently due to your bowel movement. The food that you eat is digested faster, and you experience loose or watery stools.

 Unsybtyped IBS (IBS-U): In case you neither have constipation nor diarrhoea, then it can be diagnosed as IBS-U. In this condition, you will feel your abdomen getting bloated and also experience pain.

Mixed IBS (IBS-M): When both constipation and diarrhoea co-exist at the same time, it’s highly likely that you are suffering from IBS-M. You will have both loose and lumpy stools and also have pain when you visit the bathroom.

It is crucial to understand the type of IBS you are experiencing to determine the type of medication or treatment that should be given. It is better to consult your healthcare specialist as they are experienced in this field and can provide you with the correct diagnosis.

What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome In Humans?

There is limited information on the exact causes that lead to a situation of IBS, but here are some potential reasons for its occurrence.

  • Eating too much oily food and unhealthy food habits can lead to upset stomachs.
  • Abnormal gastrointestinal motility can be one of the major causes as your intestines lose their natural rhythmic function.
  • Physical or sexual abuse can give you stress and eventually lead to IBS.
  • The dysfunction in communication between your gut and brain can cause IBS.
  • The ones going through depression, anxiety, and other disorders are very likely to have IBS.
  • When the harmful bacteria in your small intestine overgrow, it serves as a catalyst for the development of IBS.
  • When you eat foods that are not digestible by your body, you experience the situation Of IBS.

Preventive Measures To Practise

To prevent IBS, the main factors that need to be taken care of are diet, hydration, stress, and body movement. These are the prime contributors that can help you take care of your bowel health. First of all, you should identify the foods that trigger the syndrome, like street foods, oily items, or the ones with high FODMAP, and try to avoid them. Instead of them, you must eat fruits or other healthy alternatives that provide essential nutrients to the body.

Eating only is not enough as you need to digest what you consume, and the best way to do so is to drink an adequate amount of water and do work that requires your physical strength. Water will help break down the food particles, and the body will easily absorb them. When the amount of food that the body needs is absorbed, there will be no chances of constipation or diarrhoea. Also, to enhance your digestive health, you must indulge in running, walking, swimming, and other high-intensity training.

Since stress is one of the major causes that trigger IBS, you must find effective ways to manage it. The less stress you take, the less the imbalance in hormones will take place. With no imbalance in the hormones, you can enjoy better overall health for a long time. For this, you can indulge in relaxation exercises like breathing, meditation, strolling in nature, reading books, and many more.

How To Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS can be treated by implementing four techniques- meditation, dietary changes, psychological therapies, and investigational therapies. When you visit your healthcare specialist, they will recommend the best treatment, taking into account your symptoms and diagnosis. Antispasmodic medications and laxatives are the popularly administered medicines to treat IBS. Apart from that, hypnotherapy is effective in addressing the gut-brain connection and targeting the motility of the gut microbiome. Which are necessary treatments to cure IBS.

Additionally, you will have to change your dietary preferences and make modifications to your diet. You can consult an expert nutritionist who will suggest the right diet that will satisfy your cravings, improve your bowel condition, and maintain your digestive health.

Conclusion

This medical condition still remains challenging and complex for medical experts. There are ways to tackle the situation in daily life. However, the best way to handle this disease is to prevent it as much as possible. If you know the signs, causes, and treatments of IBS. You can effectively manage the condition and have a healthy life. Also, remember to visit professional healthcare providers to get the best possible solutions if you have an IBS condition.

References

  • Lovell RM, Ford AC. Global prevalence of and risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012;10:712–21. https://doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.cgh.2012.02.029
  • Ford AC, Sperber AD, Corsetti M, Camilleri M. Irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet 2020;396:1675–88. PubMed 

Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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