Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a “syndrome,” meaning a group of symptoms. It describes a wide range of symptom that vary from one person to another and can be worse for some people than others .Characterized by irregular bowel habits and abdominal pain without any structural abnormalities. IBS is a very common condition.


IBS is the most common intestinal disorder. Throughout the world, 10-20% of people might have IBS. It usually affects individuals younger than 45. Prevalence in women of 14.5% compared to 7.7% of men with a 2:1 (F: M).

How does it occur?

The cause of IBS is not fully understood. Complex combination of elements, including psychological stress, hormones, the immune system, and chemicals called neurotransmitters, appears to interfere with messages between the brain and the bowel. This miscommunication causes abnormal muscle contractions or spasms. Most symptoms of IBS probably results from abnormal muscle contraction of the muscles in the lower part of the colon. Sometimes an abnormal contraction delays bowel movements, causing constipation. At other times it may lead to more rapid passage of bowel movements, causing diarrhea. In either case it usually causes abdominal cramps.

How is it diagnosed?

After taking your medical history, your health care provider will examine your abdomen and may do a rectal exam. There is no specific test for IBS. Depending on your history and exam, your provider may do the following tests to look for other possible causes of your symptoms:

  • Blood test
  • Tests of bowel movement samples to check for blood and infection
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy

What are the symptoms?

  • Abdominal discomfort and pain (Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months)
  • Bloating
  • Mucous in stools, diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • Depression, anxiety or stress

IBS can subdivide into:

  • Diarrhea-predominant (IBS-D)
  • Constipation-predominant (IBS-C)
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation

How is it treated?

Doctors have not yet found a cure for IBS. However, controlling the diet and emotional stress usually relieves the symptoms. Some medicines may.


Increase the fiber in your diet. Eat small meals, Large meals can cause cramping and diarrhea in people with IBS. If this happens to you, try eating four or five small meals a day instead of less-frequent big meals. Avoid foods that cause gas, such as cabbage.


Your provider will help you identify things that cause stress in your life and will suggest ways to help you control them.


Your provider may prescribe:

  • Anticholinergic drugs inhibit gastrocolic reflex (ipratropium bromide).
  • Anti-diarrheals (loperamide).
  • Anti-depressants – TCAs and SSRIs (fluoxetine).

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