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Are You A Candidate For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? — an article on the Smart Living Network
April 22, 2009 at 8:37 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Are You A Candidate For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a condition that affects up to 1 in 5 Americans. Yet, because of its nature, many people feel embarrassed and are afraid to see a doctor. IBS is not something of which to be ashamed. It is a very common ailment and there are many natural treatment options available. IBS is not diagnosed with blood tests, x-rays, or colonoscopy. It is thought to be a malfunction of the communication between the gut, nervous system, and brain, and thus must be diagnosed through an analysis of symptoms. These symptoms are varied and diverse. IBS sufferers may experience only a few symptoms or almost all of them. Symptoms may vary and seem contradictory, i.e. alternating chronic, recurring diarrhea and constipation. Many people experience a change in their symptoms over time, i.e. they may initially experience diarrhea, but after a few years their main problem may become constipation.

Common Symptoms of IBS

There are some symptoms of IBS that are very common. IBS is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, usually in the lower abdomen, but pain can be present in the upper abdomen as well
  • Change in frequency of bowel movements
  • Change in appearance or consistency of bowel movements
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation, some patients even have alternating diarrhea and constipation

25 to 50 percent of patients with IBS report the following symptoms:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal fullness
  • Feeling full before you have eaten enough food
  • Bloating and gas

Many people with IBS also have the following problems:

  • Inability to make it to the bathroom
  • Inability to completely evacuate bowel
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sexual health problems
  • Back pain
  • Headaches

If you have some of these symptoms and you think you have IBS, you should see a doctor to confirm your diagnosis. Other ailments can occur concurrently with IBS, so it is important to make sure you are treating any other illnesses you might have. Nearly anyone can have IBS, even children.

Symptoms NOT Typical of IBS

  • Anemia
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever

If you have any of these symptoms you should see a doctor.

Diagnosis

IBS is diagnosed by analyzing a patient's symptoms according to the Rome-III Diagnostic Criteria. You may be diagnosed with IBS if:

  • You have experienced recurrent abdominal pain/discomfort at least three days per month for the last three months

This pain or discomfort is accompanied by two of more of the following symptoms:

  • Relief of pain with bowel movement
  • Onset of pain is accompanied by a change in the frequency that you have bowel movements
  • Onset of pain is accompanied by a change in the appearance or consistency of the stool

There are other criteria that are not essential to the diagnosis of IBS but are supportive of the diagnosis. These include:

  • More than three bowel movements per day or less than three per week
  • Hard, lumpy, loose, or watery stool
  • Straining, urgency (meaning the inability to "hold it"), or inability to have a complete bowel movement
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Bloating

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