Tuesday, June 26, 2012
WHAT IS IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME?.........
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the intestines. It causes belly pain, cramping or bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome is a long-term problem, but there are things you can do to reduce your symptoms.
Your symptoms may be worse or better from day to day, but your IBS will not get worse over time. IBS does not cause more serious diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer.
What causes IBS?
Doctors do not know exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome. In IBS, the movement of the digestive tract does not work as it should, but there is no sign of changes in the intestines, such as inflammation or tumors. Doctors think that IBS symptoms are related to problems with the signals sent between the brain and the intestines. This causes problems with the way the muscles of the intestines move.
For some people with IBS, certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, and some antibiotics may trigger pain and other symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are belly pain with constipation or diarrhea. Other common symptoms are bloating, mucus in the stools, or a feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels.
Many people with IBS go back and forth between having constipation and having diarrhea. For most people, one of these happens more often than the other.
IBS is quite common. Most people's symptoms are so mild that they never see a doctor for treatment. But some people may have troublesome symptoms, especially stomach cramps, bloating, and diarrhea.
How is IBS diagnosed?
Most of the time, doctors can diagnose irritable bowel syndrome from the symptoms. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and past health and will do a physical exam.
In some cases, you may need other tests, such as stool analysis or a sigmoidoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy lets a doctor look at the inside of the lower part of the intestine (the large intestine or colon). These tests can help your doctor rule out other problems that might be causing your symptoms.
How is it treated?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a long-term condition, but there are things you can do to manage your symptoms. Treatment usually includes making changes in your diet and lifestyle, such as avoiding foods that trigger your symptoms, getting regular exercise, and managing your stress.
There are also medicines that may help with your symptoms. If diet and lifestyle changes do not help enough on their own, your doctor may prescribe medicines for pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF IBS?
Symptoms of IBS may include:
Alternating constipation and diarrhea
Feeling that you haven't finished a bowel movement
Mucus in the stool
Often IBS is just a mild annoyance, but for some people it can be disabling. They may be unable to go to social events, work, or to travel even short distances. Most people with IBS, however, are able to control their symptoms through diet, stress management, and medicines.
WHAT CAUSES IBS?
Researchers have found that, for unknown reasons, the colons of people with IBS are more sensitive than usual and react to things that would not bother other people. For example, the muscles of the colon may contract too much after eating. These contractions can cause cramping and diarrhea during or shortly after a meal. The nerves of the colon can be overly sensitive to the stretching of the bowel (because of gas, for example), causing cramping or pain. Diet and stress play a role in IBS for many people, causing symptoms or making them worse.
In women, IBS symptoms may be worse during their menstrual periods, so hormone changes may be involved. Sometimes IBS symptoms appear after another illness.
HOW IS IBS DIAGNOSED?
IBS is usually diagnosed after bowel disease has been ruled out. Your doctor will probably take a complete medical history, do a physical exam, and check for blood in your stool. Other diagnostic tests such as blood tests, X-rays, or a colonoscopy (viewing the colon through a flexible tube inserted through the anus) may be done if needed.
WHAT FOODS MAY CAUSE IBS SYMPTOMS?
Some foods that may cause symptoms include:
Fatty foods like french fries
Milk products like cheese or ice cream (especially in people who have trouble digesting lactose, or milk sugar)
Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and some sodas)
Carbonated drinks like soda
Sorbitol, a sweetener found in certain foods and in some chewing gums
Gas-producing foods including beans and certain vegetables like broccoli or cabbage.
You may want to keep a journal tracking the foods that seem to cause trouble. You also may want to consult a registered dietitian, who can help you make changes in your diet
WHAT DRUGS ARE USED TO TREAT IBS?
Drugs sometimes used for IBS symptoms include:
fiber supplements and occasional use of laxatives (for constipation)
antispasmodics -- drugs that control colon muscle spasms and help with diarrhea and pain
tranquilizers and antidepressants to help with stress, anxiety, and depression.
Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions for use of all medicines. Some IBS drugs including laxatives can be habit-forming, and all drugs have side effects. Tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medicines that you use. New drugs are being developed for IBS so ask your doctor about new treatments.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP BESIDES AVOIDING CERTAIN FOODS AND BEVERAGES?
Drinking lots of water and increasing your fiber intake may help, especially if constipation is a problem. Fiber is found in bran, bread, cereal, beans, fruits, and vegetables. It's a good idea to increase the fiber in your diet gradually to avoid causing gas and pain. Many people with IBS also use a fiber supplement to add soluble fiber, often from psyllium seeds, to the diet