What does Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) mean?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also known as mucus colitis, nervous colon, and spastic colitis. IBS is a common functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. It is characterized by current episodes of abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and discomfort along with changes in the consistency of stool. This condition is heterogeneous, exhibiting variability in the symptoms reported within and between males and females.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

Individuals suffering from IBS will experience symptoms like belly discomfort, pain, diarrhea, constipation. However, these symptoms tend to change over some time. It can either be cured by treatment or may get severe over time, depending on the individual’s condition. Some common irritable bowel syndrome symptoms are listed below-

  • Abdominal pains and cramps usually in the lower abdomen after taking meals
  • Bloating of abdomen
  • Increased gas
  • Nausea
  • Passing whitish mucus through the stool
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Harder or looser stool than usual
  • Sudden urge to go to the washroom
  • Food intolerance
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in females

Most of the symptoms of IBS in females are similar to males. Sometimes the symptoms tend to worsen during the time of menstruation. Women often experience worsening diarrhea just before menstrual periods. Bloating is a common symptom of IBS. Females with IBS are more likely to experience more bloating during their menstrual cycle than those women without IBS. However, menopausal women experience fewer symptoms than those women who are menstruating. Some females reported that their symptoms increased during pregnancy.

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in males

Researchers suggest due to hormonal differences, the male gut is less sensitive to signs of IBS than females. Males do experience problems with sexual intimacy just like females. They face difficulty in fulfilling their work and most likely suffer from depression. However, many think males simply avoid symptoms of IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in infants

If anyone or both the parents are suffering from this disorder, children are at higher risk. Both boys and girls are equally affected. They face symptoms like, belly pain that can persist for more than 3 months, mucus seen in the stool, loss of appetite, bloating, and gas.

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes

Researchers are not aware of the exact cause of IBS. There are several factors like alteration in the gastrointestinal tract, food intolerance, hypersensitivity to pain. These factors are believed to be the causes of IBS. Let’s discuss some common causes of IBS-

  • Brain-gut dysfunction- When there is a miscommunication between the nerves of the brain and gut, there are chances to develop IBS.
  • Dysmotility- When individuals suffer from the abnormal movement of food in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Overgrowth of small intestinal bacteria- An increase in number or change in the type of bacteria can cause IBS.
  • Genetic influences- Researchers say that genes can make some people develop irritable bowel syndrome.

Mental disorders- Depression, stress, anxiety can be causes of IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms treatment

When it comes to nonsurgical treatment, changing lifestyle and diet is the primary treatment for IBS. Some of the lifestyle changes are-

  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking
  • Sleep properly
  • Get involved in stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Practice mindful training
  • Avoid taking caffeine
  • Walk regularly and practice yoga
  • Go for psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Drink enough water and fluids
  • Avoid taking foods that trigger your symptoms, look for foods with low-fat content, intake cooked vegetables other than cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli which might cause bloating of the abdomen.
  • For those who are lactose intolerant try to avoid dairy products that can trigger your symptoms.
  • Enjoy eating chicken and fish

In case lifestyle and dietary changes do not provide relief to your symptoms, the individual should immediately seek urgent medical attention by consulting an online doctor chat or simply get in touch with the best gastroenterologist in Jammu. Most cases of IBP can be treated by nonsurgical measures. But if the symptoms get more severe, the patient might have to undergo surgery.

Irritable bowel syndrome risk factors

IBS can affect both females and males of all ages. However, it is more likely to affect individuals during their teens to adulthood. Researchers have studied that genes play a vital role in the development of IBS. Records show that more females are affected than males. The reason can be, males do not reach out for help to a specialist, and females experience hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle.

On the other hand, irritable bowel syndrome health risks can be mental illness, stress, depression, and traumatic events in their lives like sexual abuse. These conditions during irritable bowel syndrome can be cured by providing stress management and behavioral therapy to the patients to decrease the symptoms.

Only a small number of people have severe cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Severe symptoms can be treated with medication and therapies. Most patients can control their symptoms by changing their lifestyle and diet. These individuals come under the category of mild cases of irritable bowel syndrome. On the other hand, some individuals might have extremely serious symptoms like bloody diarrhea, shortness of breath, palpitation, swelling of the tummy. These individuals are considered the worst cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Later in their lives, they might be diagnosed with colon cancer.

Irritable bowel syndrome case study

A 43-year-old woman with a history of recurrent abdominal pain for 25 years, loose stool, fecal urgency. In the last 1-2 years, her symptoms have worsened and she experienced severe abdomen pain, fecal urgency, and inconsistency along with 6 to 8 times loose bowel movements per day. She is not exposed to alcohol. Her symptoms started deteriorating in recent years with the increase in stress in her personal and professional life. Due to her improper bowel movements, she had to quit her job which requires a lot of traveling and her body is not permitting to do that. There is no family history of irritable bowel syndrome or colon cancer.  Physical examinations and laboratory test reports showed no signs of weight loss, no blood in stool, CPC  and laboratory negative for celiac serologies, colonoscopy with biopsy was negative, and fecal protection was negative. Previous treatment of this patient included a low-FODMAP diet with mild improvement in symptoms. The patient wants to resolve physical urgency and inconsistency and at the same time hopes for a solution to her other symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome case definition

This particular case of a 43-year-old woman suffers from symptoms like abdominal pain, fecal urgency, inconsistency, and loose bowel movements. From the patient’s history, one of the renowned gastroenterologists in Delhi was able to conclude that it is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, called irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable bowel syndrome case report

Diagnosis-  The 43-year-old woman is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. It is a digestive system disorder and is concerned with abnormal bowel movements, and abdomen pain.

 

Signs and symptoms- The signs and symptoms shown by this patient are recurrent abdominal pain, fecal inconsistency, loose stools for 6-8 times a day, fecal urgency and her symptoms have worsened in the last few years, with an increase in stress in her professional and personal life.

 

Treatment-  Firstly, based on the patient’s history, the best gastroenterologist in Delhi and her team suggested going for therapeutic sessions like CBT (Cognitive-behavioral therapy). The next important thing they paid attention to is diet. The patient was asked to continue taking a low-FODMAP diet, but at the same time consulting a dietician is recommended, to make sure she is getting her daily nutrition requirements.

 

When it comes to pharmacological management, such patients with severe symptoms should consider taking therapies of rifaximin or eluxadoline. Lastly, the doctor made sure the patient is aware that her symptoms might be minimized with a better lifestyle and medication, but it’s not realistic to completely resolve the symptoms.

 

Follow up-  A follow-up was recommended by the doctor. Approximately 5 to 6 weeks later, the patient visited the clinic again. Dr. Nivedita and her team ran some tests and diagnosed her. With the right treatment and therapies, her symptoms got minimized. Abdominal pain, fecal urgency, inconsistency have improved, also her anxiety and stress got better. The Patient was sent back home in a better state and her family was thankful to the doctor and her team.

 

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FAQs

Is IBS considered a serious health condition?

The severity of irritable bowel syndrome varies from person to person. In some individuals, IBS leads to symptoms that are manageable and can be cured by changing their lifestyle. But for others, the symptoms might get severe and interfere with their quality of life. However, with proper treatment, the symptoms can be minimized.

Is IBS a common disorder?

IBS is the most common functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. It affects both men and women starting from the age of 2 to 60.