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What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome and How To Stop Its Symptoms
Irritable bowel syndrome is a very uncomfortable condition that causes pain, changes in bowel movements and severe abdominal cramping. Loose stools, changes in the amount of stool and frequency of bowel movements are common symptoms associated with irritable bowels.
Constipation and diarrhea are often hallmarks of the condition and cause great strife and aggravation along with accompanying discomfort and embarrassment.
Sometimes called irritable colon or mucous colitis, irritable bowel syndrome is not dangerous but it is painful and troublesome. Having it, you most definitely want to get rid of it.
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Most irritable bowel sufferers have mild cases and can manage it without much difficulty, but for others symptoms are severe and can adversely effect your quality of life.
Most irritable bowel sufferers are between the ages of thirty five to fifty with one in ten men and two in ten women experiencing symptoms.
Researchers have worked to identify the causes and discover new treatments for the condition, and a number of dietary and natural remedies have been found that can help you relieve your discomfort.
If you suspect you have IBS, follow any or all of these tips to help you manage and control the symptoms and get the right diagnosis and treatment for relief.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
While it is commonly accepted that irritable bowel syndrome begins with trouble originating in the large intestine, the exact cause or causes of the syndrome remain unknown.
There are, however, numerous theories offered by researchers to identify the underlying cause. Overly sensitive nerves in the large intestine could play a role as could intestinal muscle disorders. Inflammations of the intestinal wall could cause irritable bowels and people with intestinal infections often experience bowel symptoms.
Extreme stress, psychological disturbances, food allergies or intolerances and poor diets can also contribute to symptoms.
Symptoms Associated with Irritable Bowel
Common symptoms of irritable bowel include diarrhea, constipation, cramping in the lower abdomen, gas, flatulence, and a feeling of being uncomfortably full. Sometimes sufferers experience a mucousy discharge in their stool and other types of abnormal stools are common.
In order for your symptoms to be considered as irritable bowel, one or more of these symptoms must be experienced at least three days a month for three months.
Additionally, if symptoms seem to subside or lessen in intensity after a bowel movement or the frequency and amount of your bowel movements has changed, you should consider the possibility you are suffering from the condition and speak with your doctor or health care provider about your symptoms, risk factors and treatment options.
Test for Irritable Bowel
Your doctor or health care provider can do a couple of tests and check for signs of irritable bowel if you are experiencing the above symptoms.
Commonly, irritable bowel is confused with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer and celiac disease often present in the same way irritable bowel does, so it is important to rule out these diseases and get a proper diagnosis.
If you suspect irritable bowel, your doctor can take blood tests to check for low blood count and celiac disease and they can check your stool sample for infections. Some patients will receive a colonoscopy for a full check up and to rule out major intestinal problems.
Treatments for Irritable Bowel
The aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms. Lifestyle choices are a smart place to start and can go a long way towards relieving symptoms. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising and eating a healthy balanced diet can reduce stress and the resulting strain on your intestinal track.
Avoid large, heavy meals and foods that can irritate the intestine such as caffeine, tea, coffee and colas. Increasing the amount of dietary fiber taken daily can help relieve constipation but may exacerbate bloating, so be sure to be mindful of your fiber intake and the effect it has on your intestinal system.
Sometimes medications may be prescribed for treatment of irritable bowel and these can include loperamide, bisacodyl, lubiprostone, rifaximin, and some anticholinergic medications taken before eating to control spasms of the intestinal muscles.
In extreme cases where psychological stress and discomfort is thought to be a contributing factor to irritable bowel, therapy and counseling is advised to help alleviate stress that leads to gastrointestinal discomfort.
Managing irritable bowel can be a challenge, but it can be done. Keep a journal of the foods you have eaten and the activities you have done and keep track of when and how severe symptoms present. After a few weeks, go back through your journal and see if there are any common foods, stresses or other triggers that correlate with the onset of irritable bowel.
Take your journal with you when you go to speak with your health care provider and talk with them about your symptoms, your journal and what you think is going on. With your input and information, your doctor can eliminate or identify irritable bowel syndrome and start you on a path of treatment to manage or eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel.
While IBS is not dangerous, it does diminish your quality of life and distracts your focus from things you enjoy so it is worth taking the time to treat.
Be patient with yourself and keep a mindful awareness of what you eat, your bowel movements and your symptoms so you can speak with your doctor and get the right tests, treatments and medications if needed.
Do not be embarrassed or be held back by your IBS symptoms, be proactive and take control of your health and self with changes to your diet, lifestyle, supplements, and medications if necessary.
After you get your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms under control, you will learn to enjoy yourself without worry about locating the nearest rest room or passing gas in a public and embarrassing setting.
Taking care of yourself and investing the time it takes to uncover, test and treat irritable bowel syndrome can drastically improve the quality of your life and give you a freedom you will love. Not worrying about the pain, discomfort and embarrassment of irritable bowel will return a normal life to you and restore your possibilities.
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