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Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome: All you need to know about this chronic digestive disease

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive disease. The cause is unknown, however it leads to abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation. This article examines IBS symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Prevalence and Impact

Leading gastroenterologist Dr. Naveen Polavarapu stresses IBS’s prevalence. IBS affects 10–20% of people, yet only 15% seek medical help. A substantial percentage of people have IBS, which may damage their quality of life.

Untying the Pain

Young adult women are more likely to have IBS. Characteristic symptoms are:

  • Abdominal Cramps: Abdominal cramps vary in intensity. Bowel movements may reduce discomfort, but emotional stress, eating, and a full bowel may worsen it.
  • Bowel Habit Changes: Another sign of IBS is bowel changes. It causes diarrhea or constipation. “Diarrhea-predominant IBS.” Instead, “constipation-predominant IBS” causes frequent constipation.
  • Diarrhea: IBS individuals may have frequent, loose stools in the morning or after meals. After urgency, diarrhea may seem incomplete. In addition to diarrhea, half of IBS sufferers produce mucus.
  • Constipation: IBS can induce daylong constipation. Pellets of hard stool and a feeling of incomplete bowel movements are common. Tension and long bathroom visits can result.

Differential Diagnosis: Excluding Similar Conditions

A differential diagnosis excludes comparable illnesses.

Several digestive disorders resemble IBS. This includes:

  • Malabsorption: Intestines have problems absorbing food.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease cause chronic intestinal inflammation.
  • Celiac Disease: This autoimmune disease affects gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and rye.
  • Microscopic Colitis: Microscopic Colitis (colon lining inflammation) seems normal under a microscope.

The Test-Free Diagnostic Maze

Since there is no test for IBS, diagnosis is challenging. Diagnostic criteria help clinicians assess patients’ symptoms. They don’t always distinguish IBS from other conditions. Thus, a full medical history, physical exam, and specific testing are needed to rule out other causes of symptoms.

Manage: Relieving Discomfort

IBS is no cure, although several treatments enhance quality of life. This includes:

  • Dietary Changes: Avoid symptom-causing foods. Some low FODMAP diets reduce fermentable carbs.
  • Stress Management: Stress causes IBS. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing alleviate stress.
  • Medication: Antaspasmodics relieve intestinal cramps. Drugs relieve constipation and diarrhea.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics may improve IBS symptoms by restoring gut flora.

IBS can be frustrating and unpredictable. IBS patients benefit from diet, stress management, and medicine.

Disclaimer: This is general information and shouldn’t replace medical advice. For an accurate IBS diagnosis and customized therapy, see your doctor.


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