Irritable bowel syndrome, or irritable bowel disease, is a long-term gastrointestinal disorder. It causes abdominal pain, bloating, mucous in stools, irregular bowel habits, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD), is also known as spastic colitis, mucus colitis, and nervous colon. It is a chronic, or long-term, condition, but symptoms tend to change over the years.
IBS can cause persistent discomfort, but most people will not experience severe complications.
Symptoms often improve as individuals learn to manage the condition. Severe and persistent severe symptoms are rare.
Fast facts on irritable bowel syndrome
Here are some key points about irritable bowel syndrome.
IBS can cause discomfort, but it does not usually lead to serious complications.
Currently, there is no cure for IBS.
Dietary and emotional factors can play a key role in IBS.
Reducing alcohol intake can ease symptoms.
Excluding foods that cause gas can also improve symptoms.
IBS can lead to discomfort and abdominal pain.
The most common symptoms experienced by people with IBS are:
changes in bowel habits
abdominal pain and cramping, which often lessen after using the bathroom
a feeling that the bowels are not fully emptied after using the bathroom
passing of mucus from the back passage, or rectum
a sudden urgent need to use the bathroom
swelling or bloating of the abdomen
Symptoms often worsen after eating. A flare-up may last from 2 to 4 days, and then symptoms may either improve or go away completely.
Signs and symptoms vary considerably between individuals. They often resemble those of other diseases and conditions. They can also affect different parts of the body.
These can include:
halitosis, or bad breath
joint or muscle pain
pain with sex (for females) or sexual dysfunction
Anxiety and depression may also occur, often because of the discomfort and embarrassment that can accompany the condition.
IBS causes discomfort in the gastrointestinal system.
Factors that may be involved include:
environmental factors, such as stress
digestive organs being excessively sensitive to pain
an unusual response to infection
a malfunction in the muscles used to move food through the body
an inability of the central nervous system (CNS) to control the digestive system properly
A person’s mental and emotional state may have an impact. People who have had a traumatic experience have a higher risk of developing IBS.
Hormonal changes can make symptoms worse. They are often more severe in women, for example, around the time of menstruation.
Infections, such as gastroenteritis, can trigger post-infectious IBS or PI-IBS.
As the causes are uncertain, treatment for IBS aims to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
This usually involves some dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as learning how to manage stress.