Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Types, Symptoms, Causes, And More

Medically reviewed by G. Liakeas, MD FACT CHECKED

IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) affects 8-22% of the general population and is a prevalent gastrointestinal illness. Stomach discomfort or pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits are all symptoms of it.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is marked by symptoms of stomach pain or bloating as well as frequent or frequent loose feces. The digestive system is impacted by the illness known as irritable bowel syndrome.

Stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating are some of the symptoms it produces. These typically come and go throughout time and can endure for a few days, a few weeks, or even several months.

Typically, it’s a lifelong issue. It can be incredibly annoying to deal with and significantly affect how you live your life.

Although there is no cure, medication and lifestyle adjustments can frequently help reduce the symptoms.

Although the precise reason is unknown, it has been connected to factors like a family history of IBS, stress, how slowly or quickly food passes through your gut and oversensitive gut nerves.

In this article, we will be looking at all about Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder that affects the colon, can be extremely painful even though it is not thought to be life-threatening. 3 out of every 10 people experience IBS, making it a widespread condition.

IBS is distinct from inflammatory bowel disease, which encompasses long-term illnesses including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The large intestine is impacted by the condition known as irritable bowel syndrome. It may result in abdominal discomfort, bloating, and bowel irregularities.

Some sufferers with the condition experience diarrhea. Some people have constipation. Some people may alternate between the two. Even though IBS can be quite uncomfortable, the intestines are not harmed by it.

Women are affected by it twice as often as males, and persons under forty-five are most frequently affected. Nobody is exactly sure what causes IBS.

There isn’t a particular test for it. To be sure you do not have any other ailments, your doctor may perform testing.

Types Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS comes in three different subtypes: IBS-M, IBS-D, and IBS-C. Each has a name that relates to the bowel movement experience.

There is some evidence to suggest that some IBS sufferers will switch between them over time.

  1. IBS With Diarrhea (IBS-D)

    IBS-D (IBS with diarrhea) is the name given to one subtype of IBS. These are the boundaries for this kind of IBS:

    • Your stools are watery or loose in more than a quarter of the cases
    • Fewer than 30% of your stools are firm or lumpy

    With IBS, abdominal pain is a common ailment. These excruciating stomach pains might be brought on by changes in the consistency or frequency of stools.

    Many people who experience frequent diarrheal irregularities experience weariness and nausea. Some IBS-D sufferers will alternate between episodes of constipation and diarrhea.

    Abdominal distention and bloating are frequent complaints.

  2. IBS With Constipation (IBS-C)

    At least 1/4th of your stools must be firm or lumpy if you have this subtype. The main issue is constipation. Constipation can be caused by a variety of circumstances.

    So, to make sure there isn’t another reason for your symptoms, your doctor will probably order certain tests.

    Severe stool abnormalities can cause people with IBS-C to have additional symptoms. In contrast to other subtypes of IBS, persons with IBS-C may have higher rates of depression and anxiety.

  3. IBS And Mixed Bowel Habits (IBS-M)

    Mixed bowel habits, also referred to as IBS-M, affect many people. This is categorized as:

    • A lot more than 30% of your stools are firm or lumpy
    • Your watery or loose stools account for more than 30% of the total

    It might be difficult to find solutions for a variety of bowel habits, but figuring out what is generating the malfunction in the first place should come first.

Symptoms Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The main symptoms of IBS are:

  1. Stomach cramps or pain: you may feel stomach cramps or pain after eating, however, better after clearing your bowel
  2. Bloating: your stomach may feel swollen and uncomfortably full
  3. Diarrhea: you may have a watery poo and sometimes need to poop suddenly
  4. Constipation: you may strain when pooping and feel like you cannot empty your bowels fully

Additionally, some patients complain of nausea, feeling as though their bowel movement was incomplete even after a poo, and white mucus in the feces. IBS pain is frequently made better by passing feces.

Cause Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS’s exact cause is unknown. It might be related to an overactive section or components of the digestive system’s gut. The muscles in the intestinal wall contract regularly to help food move along the intestine.

If the contractions become excessively active or irregular, discomfort and other symptoms may appear. The particular location of the pain and whether diarrhea or constipation occurs may depend on the portion of the gut that is overactive.

There is no known reason why certain regions of the intestines are overactive. Any one or more of the following could be involved:

  • Hypersensitivity: Some IBS sufferers are more sensitive to the discomfort of gastrointestinal cramping and bloating
  • Infection: In certain people, bacterial gastroenteritis can cause IBS
  • Stress: Stressful situations can also bring on IBS symptoms. Physical symptoms can be a manifestation of psychological stress. Stress can exacerbate IBS
  • Body chemicals: Some IBS sufferers have abnormal amounts of neurotransmitters, which are substances that convey hormones and nerve signals that regulate the digestive system. It appears that reproductive hormones make symptoms worse
  • Bacterial overgrowth: An excess of bacteria in the intestines has been linked to IBS
  • Alterations to the intestinal microbiome, which is made up of “friendly” bacteria that are vital to digestion and general health. People with IBS appear to have a different microbiome than healthy individuals
  • Food intolerances: Many IBS sufferers claim that certain foods and drinks may aggravate their symptoms

Treatment Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS does not have a treatment. While used to assist control symptoms, medications are only advised when necessary.

IBS sufferers can help themselves by learning more about the ailment and discovering better coping mechanisms for anxiety and stress. Symptom control may also benefit from dietary changes.

Medications

  • Antispasmodic medications: To relieve uncomfortable spasms and relax the muscles in your intestines’ wall
  • Bile acid binders are anti-diarrhea drugs that doctors may recommend. Loperamide is one of many over-the-counter medications that can help reduce diarrhea
  • Antidepressants: A doctor may prescribe drugs to treat depression if your symptoms include depression
  • Supplements with fiber: For the treatment of constipation and perhaps some other IBS symptoms, doctors may give psyllium

Diet

Dietary modifications might also help manage IBS symptoms. Eating around the same time every day should aid in regulating bowel movements.

Limiting or avoiding foods that frequently exacerbate IBS symptoms is advised. Potential offenders include coffee, chocolate, alcohol, and specific kinds of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs.

Fructose, a sugar present in fruits, and lactose are examples of FODMAPS (which is found in dairy products). Eating lesser servings or eating smaller meals more frequently may help with diarrhea symptoms.

Consuming more high-fiber foods may encourage the passage of food through the intestines if constipation is an issue. Cereals, whole grain bread, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts are examples of foods high in fiber.

Conclusion

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms like constipation and diarrhea can make hemorrhoids worse. Additionally, avoiding particular meals may prevent you from consuming enough of the nutrients you require, which could result in malnutrition.

But the biggest problem may be how the illness affects your general quality of life. There are currently no conclusive diagnostic tests for irritable bowel syndrome because there are no physical anomalies or symptoms linked to the condition.

Consequently, patient history is typically used to make a diagnosis. Regular exercise can improve bowel function and reduce stress, especially in those who struggle with constipation.

Anyone with IBS should be encouraged by their doctor to keep up with their recommended rehabilitation intervention program even when they are experiencing symptoms.

A patient with IBS who has developed breath-holding habits or hyperventilation in response to stress needs special attention from therapists.

It’s crucial to learn how to breathe properly for all of your regular activities, but especially for relaxation and exercise.

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