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Sunday 9 June 2013

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Some of you may have noticed the last while, I've referred to IBS, or otherwise known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome quite a few times. That's because for some reason or another, I've been suffering from it, and it's actually taken over my life. So here's some answers to questions that you may have...

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

This is a very common disorder, which can be referred to as IBS, Functional Bowel Disorder, Spastic Bowel, Spastic Colon. It's a disorder of the intestine, which causes abdominal pain, which may include constipation, diarrhoea, or possible periods of both. Many times it can be mistaken for colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease that is a more serious condition that involves damage to the colon... which IBS doesn't do any damage to the colon.

IBS affects at least 20% of the population, which is second to the common cold, and is the most frequent cause of missed days at work and/or school. The symptoms can disappear for periods of time, but unfortunately they usually return.

Some Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The true cause of IBS is unknown.

- Eating
- Emotional stress
- Excessive gas
- Medications and food (chocolate, dairy products, alcohol, fructose, coffee, carbohydrates, etc.)
- Female hormones (may worsen during period)
- After a bout of gastroenteritis
- An overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine

Symptoms and Complications of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

- Abdominal pain and cramps, which can appear "on-again" and "off-again"
- Excessive gas
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Constipation or diarrhoea, or altering periods of both
- Bloating
- Changes in bowel habits
- Mucus in the stool

** Blood in the stool IS NOT a symptom of IBS. If you have blood in your stool, constant pain, or have a fever should see a doctor.

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