Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder which causes symptoms of abdominal pain, often with gas a bloating along and a change in bowel habits. Patient may have constipation, diarrhea or fluctuate between the stool types. Symptoms are typically long standing, though they may change in severity over time and with certain stressors or foods. The pain is typically described as a lower abdominal cramping sensation started after meals and relieved with bowel movements.
This disorder effects women more than men and is very common, impacting an average of 10-20% of the population. It is one of the most common disorders to cause lost work days, just behind the common cold. Although IBS may affect many people, this condition is never life threatening. It is unknown what causes IBS but it is believed to be due to over sensitized nerves within the digestive system which react too vigorously to the normal digestive process.
Often just explaining your symptoms to your doctor will allow him to make the diagnosis. IBS is called a diagnosis of exclusion and this means your doctor will want to rule out other conditions which might have similar symptoms. Symptoms like rectal bleeding, weight loss, anemia or bowel movements awakening you from sleep are not typical for IBS a should prompt your doctor to do further testing, You may be asked to have blood work, stool analysis, x ray testing or a colonoscopy before your doctor will be convinced that this is the proper diagnosis.
The treatment for IBS may involve changes in your life style and diet. There are multiple medications also available to deal with the symptoms of pain and bowel changes so this condition does not need to interfere with your life and your plans. Talk to your physician about these options and to exclude other concerning conditions so that you can begin to feel better and have the tools to manage this common disorder.