Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a collection of symptoms that include abdominal pain and changes in bowel motions, which might be diarrhoea, constipation, or both. You get these symptoms if you have IBS and there are no obvious indicators of damage or disease in your digestive tract.

IBS is classified by researchers based on the type of bowel movement difficulties you encounter. The type of IBS you have can influence your treatment. Certain medications are only effective for certain types of IBS.

The type of IBS you have is determined by the abnormal bowel motions which the patient have:

  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C): In this type of IBS, the stool is mostly hard and lumpy.
  • IBS-D: In this type of IBS, the majority of stool is loose and watery.
  • IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M): In this type of IBS, the patient experiences both hard and lumpy stool movements and loose and watery movements.

Causes of IBS:

Researchers aren’t sure what causes IBS. They believe that a combination of factors, including the below can cause IBS:

  • Dysmotility – Issues with how the GI muscles contract and move food through the digestive tract.
  • Visceral hypersensitivity: Extra-sensitive nerves in the GI tract are known as visceral hypersensitivity.
  • Brain-gut dysfunction: Miscommunication between nerves in the brain and the gut 

Symptoms of IBS include:

  • Cramps or abdominal pain, commonly in the lower portion of the abdomen.
  • Bloating.
  • Harder or softer bowel movements than normal.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or both.
  • Increased gas and mucus in stools

Symptoms of IBS may worsen during periods in women

There is no definite test to diagnose IBS. Your doctor will most likely begin with a thorough medical history, physical exam, and testing to rule out other diseases such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBS is categorized into four kinds for diagnosis and treatment: constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant, mixed, and unclassified.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Symptoms appear beyond the age of 50.
  • Weight reduction
  • Bleeding in the rectum
  • Fever
  • Recurrent vomiting or nausea
  • Iron deficiency anemia

Diagnosis:

  • Colonoscopy. To inspect the whole length of the colon, your provider will use a short, flexible tube.
  • The CT scan. This test generates images of your abdomen and pelvis, which may rule out alternative reasons of your symptoms, particularly if you experience stomach pain.
  • An upper endoscopy in suspected case of celiac disease 

Laboratory testing may include Lactose intolerance tests, Breath test, stool examination

Treatment:

Although no specific therapy is effective for everyone, most people with IBS can find a treatment that works for them. IBS treatment plan will be tailored to patient’s specific needs by the healthcare professional like specific dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and medical management. 

Medical management includes use of medicines to treat symptoms like diarrhoea, constipation or abdominal pain. Use of probiotics can enhance gut bacteria.

Dr. Giridhar Reddy
Consultant Gastroenterologist

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