Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Types, Symptoms, Causes And More
It's important to note that IBS doesn't influence bowel conditions or heighten the risk of colorectal cancer.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also known as irritable colon, is a prevalent disorder impacting the large intestine. It encompasses a cluster of intestinal symptoms that tend to appear simultaneously. If left unmanaged, it has the potential to cause damage to the intestines, although severe cases are relatively rare. Trigger factors such as unhealthy eating habits, uncontrolled stress, and hormonal imbalances can provoke this condition. Unfortunately, many people tend to overlook the symptoms of IBS since they are often associated with common digestive issues.
Types of IBS
IBS is categorised by researchers based on the specific bowel movement issues an individual experiences. People with IBS may have regular bowel movements on some days and irregular ones on other days. The classification of IBS is determined by the nature of the irregular bowel movements, which can be described as follows:
IBS with constipation (IBS-C): The majority of bowel movements are characterised by hard and lumpy stools.
IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D): The majority of bowel movements are loose and watery.
IBS-M: Irritable bowel syndrome with mixed bowel habits, is characterised by experiencing both hard and lumpy bowel movements as well as loose and watery movements within a single day.
IBS primarily affects individuals in their late teens to early 40s, with women being twice as susceptible as men. There is a possibility of multiple family members experiencing IBS. Certain risk factors include:
Family history of IBS
Emotional stress, tension, or anxiety
History of physical or sexual abuse
Severe digestive tract infection
Symptoms of IBS
Constipation and Diarrhoea
People with IBS may experience both constipation and diarrhoea. Incorporating a higher amount of dietary fibre, along with the standard treatment for IBS, can be beneficial in alleviating constipation. On the other hand, in certain instances, people may encounter episodes of diarrhoea accompanied by the presence of mucus in their stool. Maintaining proper hydration is critical when managing diarrhoea.
Pain and cramping
Pain and cramping are prevalent symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The disrupted functioning of the digestive tract often results in discomfort and cramps. In the case of constipation-related IBS, pain is typically experienced and tends to alleviate after a bowel movement. The pain typically affects the lower abdomen or can encompass the entire abdominal region.
Excessive gas and bloating
Insufficient digestion can result in increased gas production and bloating. Adopting healthy eating habits is essential to reduce the occurrence of these symptoms.
It is a condition that can be activated by certain types of food. Numerous reports indicate that individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often experience a deterioration of symptoms when consuming specific foods.
Depression and anxiety
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can actually contribute to the development of depression and anxiety. This connection arises from the heightened levels of stress caused by the irregularities in bowel movements experienced by people with IBS. Research has even indicated alterations in the secretion of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, among patients diagnosed with IBS.
Causes of IBS
The precise cause of IBS remains unknown. However, several factors are believed to contribute, including:
Muscle contractions in the intestine: The intestinal walls are composed of layers of muscle that contract to propel food through the digestive tract. When these contractions become stronger and more prolonged than normal, they can lead to symptoms such as gas, bloating, and diarrhoea. Conversely, weak contractions can slow down the passage of food, resulting in hard, dry stools.
Nervous system: The nervous system plays a crucial role in the digestive system, and any issues with the nerves can result in discomfort when the abdomen expands due to gas or stool. When there is ineffective communication between the brain and the intestines, the body may excessively react to routine digestive processes, causing pain, diarrhoea, or constipation.
Severe infection: IBS may arise following a severe episode of diarrhoea triggered by a bacterial or viral infection, known as gastroenteritis. Another possible factor is an excess of bacteria in the intestines, referred to as bacterial overgrowth.
Early life stress: Individuals who have experienced stressful events, particularly during childhood, often exhibit a higher prevalence of IBS symptoms.
Alterations in gut microbes: This includes changes in the composition of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that typically inhabit the intestines and contribute to overall health. Research suggests that individuals with IBS may possess different microbial profiles compared to those without the condition.
Dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) presents its fair share of difficulties. The presence of symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhoea, gas, and bloating can significantly disrupt your daily life. However, it is possible to manage IBS effectively. While a complete cure may not be available, you can alleviate symptoms through adjustments in your diet and lifestyle.
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