Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a condition characterized by any combination of symptoms, including abdominal pain, indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, with no clear cause. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. In addition to pain, indigestion, and bloating, there may be excessive gas, nausea, abdominal distension, rumbling and gurgling, temporarily relief of pain after passing gas or feces, mucus in the feces, and a feeling that the bowel is not emptying completely. Symptoms can be aggravated by anxiety. IBS, the most common disorder of the digestive tract, is not a chemical disease, or due to a structural defect. It is a functional disorder that affects the muscles of the intestines and can be brought on, or aggravated by, emotional stress. Evidence suggests that increased responsiveness of the nervous system to normal stimuli is part of the cause. Food intolerance is another contributing factor. IBS is twice as common in women as in men and usually begins in early adulthood.
The symptoms of IBS are similar to those of many other gastrointestinal disorders. A sudden change in bowel habits after years of regularity can be a symptom of IBS, or of a serious digestive disorder, such as colon cancer. As a result, the diagnosis of IBS is made by eliminating other possible causes of symptoms. Dr. Klin typically orders a number of tests to rule out other underlying problems. Tests may include imaging procedures, such as ultrasound or CT (computed tomography) scanning, sigmoidoscopy (a procedure in which the rectum and sigmoid colon are examined using a slim, flexible, lighted tube inserted through the anus), barium x-rays of the gastrointestinal tract, and a stool analysis. When chronic symptoms include abdominal discomfort, problems with passing stools, and emotional stress, and tests do not reveal the presence of any other disease, the diagnosis is most likely IBS.
Symptoms of IBS can be managed by practicing relaxation techniques to help reduce stress. A high-fiber diet that includes eight to ten glasses of liquid a day is recommended for constipation, and glycerin suppositories, or enemas, can be used in severe cases. For diarrhea, Dr. Klin advises resting and drinking clear fluids until symptoms subside. Watery diarrhea can cause dehydration and loss of crucial body salts, which may be restored with oral rehydration fluid. Gas producing food such as beans, cabbage, and onions should be avoided. There are many new developments in the management of IBS. We advise you to talk with Dr. Klin about the various treatment options.
Source: AMA Complete Encyclopedia, Copyright 2003, American Medical Association
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