What is IBS?

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 1/5/2017 1:50 PM by Interim HealthCare
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a common condition of the lower colon.

Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that will require long-term management.

Even though signs and symptoms are uncomfortable, IBS — unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease — does not cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Only a small number of people with irritable bowel syndrome have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Others will need medication and counseling.

The signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • A bloated feeling
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
  • Mucus in the stool
For most people, IBS is a chronic condition, although there will likely be times when the signs and symptoms are worse and times when they improve or even disappear completely.

When to see a doctor

Although as many as 1 in 5 American adults have signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, fewer than 1 in 5 who have symptoms seek medical help. Yet it is important to see your doctor if you have a persistent change in bowel habits or if you have any other signs or symptoms of IBS because these may indicate a more serious condition, such as colon cancer.
Symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition include:
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night
  • Weight loss
Your doctor may be able to help you find ways to relieve symptoms as well as rule out colon conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. Your doctor can also help you avoid possible complications from problems such as chronic diarrhea.

These can include skin breakdown in bedridden patients or imbalances in blood electrolytes, both of which can be serious. IBS is frequently exacerbated by stress.

It will not go away on its own, but may be episodic and manageable with counseling for stress reduction, proper diet, and medications as ordered by your Doctor. Many people have used alternative treatments for IBS with good results: Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and even chiropractic adjustments have been reported to reduce episodes of IBS alone or when combined with standard treatments.

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