Doctor Speaks

IBS Awareness Month: Know about Irritable Bowel Syndrome

DayToDay Team
April 20, 2021

Irritable Bowel Syndrome comes in the category of medical disorders which have varied symptoms, endless trigger factors, and treatment options that expand from lifestyle changes to medications. Since globally April is celebrated as IBS awareness month, this article gives insights into what IBS is, what it looks like, and how it can be managed. Let’s get into more details.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a medical condition that causes discomfort of the colon. Not to be confused with irritable bowel disease, IBS involves intestinal symptoms that typically may occur together. It often goes undiagnosed for years and becomes a cause for concern only when the symptoms cannot be managed entirely.

In some cases, IBS is known to cause some intestinal damage. The symptoms are severe for some individuals and mild for others. According to statistics, close to 7.5% of Indians and almost 11% globally suffer from IBS. Out of these, only 30% go to the doctor for Irritable Bowel Syndrome treatment.

What causes Irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Though the exact cause of IBS hasn’t been identified, there are a few theories that have come to light. A few studies suggest that irritable bowel syndrome is caused by hypersensitivity of the colon to a stimulus like a dietary substance (milk products, wheat, milk, nuts).

Research also suggests that in cases where the bowel muscles are weak or do not function at the required capacity, an individual may develop IBS. Other studies show that stress, the release of chemicals like serotonin and gastrin, or certain kinds of bacteria may trigger IBS.

What are the sign and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS exhibits a variety of signs and symptoms. The more common irritable bowel syndrome symptoms include -

  • Constipation
  • Violent episodes of Diarrhea
  • Constipation and Diarrhea alternating
  • Severe abdominal cramps and pain
  • Severe bloating and gas
  • Food intolerance
  • Urinary inconsistency
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Anxiety


These symptoms will be persistent at least twice a week for 3 weeks, going up to 6 months. Stress can cause these symptoms to worsen. It has also been identified that IBS is more prevalent in women than men.

How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnosed?

IBS is a very tricky disorder and doesn’t easily show up on any specific test. The doctor usually eliminates a list of disorders and medical factors that may cause symptoms similar to that of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. These include -

  • Food allergies like lactose intolerance or gluten allergy
  • Medications for iron deficiency or blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal infections caused by bacteria
  • Deficiency of specific enzymes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease


The diagnostic tests performed to eliminate these factors may include X-ray, upper endoscopy, stool test to examine blood or other infection, blood tests to identify anemia or thyroid problems, and other tests for identifying allergens.

Is there a treatment for IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome treatment is not permanent or fixed. It includes medical management of the symptoms and adopting some lifestyle and dietary changes. Since IBS can get triggered by food allergies, hormones, medications, or the presence of gas, the following can be adopted.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome diet that excludes allergy-causing food items like milk, nuts, gluten
  • Avoiding caffeine in tea or coffee
  • Avoiding tobacco consumption
  • Drinking up to 8 glasses of water daily
  • Eating smaller portions of meals
  • Maintaining a diet diary
  • Exercising and meditating
  • Limiting consumption of oily and fried foods


In case IBS is due to stress, the patient can seek psychological counseling sessions. Many-a-times, specific diets can contribute to stress and anxiety. So, the second pair of eyes, in the form of a dietician, can also provide the right treatment regime.

For constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and bloating, doctors advise medications. Some of these medications can be habit-forming. So, it is advisable to consume them only in the amount prescribed.

Conclusion

Though the diagnosis of IBS is tricky, its identification can help patients get rid of painful and dreadful symptoms. It is necessary to communicate and talk about irritable bowel syndrome with families, care coaches, and doctors. In the end, correct diagnosis, treatment regime, and a successful recovery are necessary to manage this medical ailment.

Experience expert consultation and diagnosis for IBS at Smiles Institute of Gastroenterology. Contact DayToDay Health at 080 4889 3331 for more information.

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