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What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder of the large intestine or colon with an unknown precise cause and symptoms that may vary from patient to patient.

Patients suffering from IBS will have to deal with the symptoms throughout their lives. Typically the intensity of the symptoms varies - in most cases asymptomatic periods alternate with periods of flare-ups.

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Most patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome do not seek medical help to get proper treatment, trying to ease their symptoms with home remedies. Some patients try to control their symptoms by adopting lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and stress relief. It is important to know that severe symptoms can be treated with medication and counseling.

Signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:

  • abdominal pain and cramps
  • bloating and flatulence
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • diarrhea and constipation alternating
  • mucus in the stool

When you need to go to the doctor

We highly recommend visiting your physician when you experience a persistent change in bowel habits or your symptoms get worse. Sometimes these changes may indicate a severe condition.

When you experience the following symptoms seek immediate medical help:

  • Diarrhea at night
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Pain not relieved by bowel movement or passing gas

The exact cause of IBS is unknown. However, there are some factors that might play a role in the appearance of this disorder, such as nerve abnormalities of the digestive system, inflammation of the intestines, severe infections, or microflora changes.

The symptoms of this condition can be triggered by:

  • Food, especially wheat, citrus fruits, beans, cabbage, milk, and carbonated drinks
  • Prolonged stress can also aggravate the symptoms
  • Hormonal changes - for women the symptoms can aggravate during and around menstruation

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/