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Irritable Bowel Syndrome – The Facts

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 Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common cause of gastrointestinal discomfort. About half of all patients with digestive problems are affected. This disease can cause constipation alternating with diarrhoea. It may also cause a feeling of pain and pressure in the abdominal region. Bloating is also quite common. Do you think you may have IBS? Below is a summary of the symptoms, causes and treatments of this surprisingly common disease.

 Causes of IBS

Whilst there is often a lack of outward signs, the severity of IBS can include psychological stress factors such as anxiety. This can worsen suffering and will cause added strain on the digestive system, due to panic and worry. It is important to remember however that IBS should never be look at as a purely psychological condition. Recent research shows that the intestinal muscles of affected individuals are more responsive to stimuli. Subconscious mental problems increase the likelihood of effects as do certain types of food . Consumables such as chocolate, milk products, alcohol or drugs can make things much worse. Hard stool and air in the intestine can also cause it to flare up. An increase in irritable bowel symptoms in women during menstruation also suggests a hormonal component. In addition, a possible decreased tolerance of certain foods can be expected.

 Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a frequently occurring disease that can affect up to 20 percent of the population. It has also been found to affect women twice as often as men. Those affected by irritable bowel syndrome may experience a change in the frequency of bowel movements and stool consistency. This can cause dramatic differences during defecation, ranging from constipation to diarrhea. There may also be a variety of stabbing, cramping and burning pains within the lower abdomen and below the ribs. In some patients, there is even a bloated feeling and pain below the sternum. Temporary relief after defecation is common. In the lower part of the colon there is often an increase in the accumulation of air. This can manifest itself in the form of bloating, flatulence and loud bowel sounds. Sometimes when passing stool, there may be the expulsion of mucus along with it. Passing blood during defecation and dramatic weight loss are uncharacteristic of IBS. This could in fact be the cause of an underlying condition.

Types of treatment

There are various methods listed to help clear the symptoms of IBS. Its very nature means certain methods will be more effective in individuals than others. Non-prescriptive treatments include psychotherapy, hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation or meditative techniques. Self-help groups can also have a positive influence on this condition. It is also useful to identify possible foods that could trigger the onset of symptoms. Modification of fibre intake can change the nature of bowel movements.

 As mentioned before, drug therapy is individually tailored to each patient. This method usually contains a large degree of trial and error. Particular drugs will work better on some individuals than others. Irritable bowel syndrome remedies can vary greatly. They range from herb-based solutions to pharmaceutical drugs such as laxatives and antispasmodics.

 Despite how commonplace IBS, it is still difficult to determine fast and effective solutions to remedy it. If you feel this is a condition that is affecting you, following the above tips can begin to help you feel right again.

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