Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Originally posted on September 22, 2022 @ 5:49 pm

Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive condition that results in wind, diarrhoea, constipation, and intestinal pain. It has an unknown root cause. It is common practice to base a diagnosis on symptoms.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS?

IBS is a combination of abdominal pain or discomfort and issues with bowel habits, such as going more or less frequently than usual (diarrhoea or constipation) or passing a different type of stool (thin, hard, or soft and liquid). IBS used to go by other names, such as:

  • IC colitis
  • Colitis mucous
  • rigid colon
  • Anxious colon
  • bowel spasms

The condition comes in four varieties:

  1. Constipation along with IBS (IBS-C)
  2. IBS and diarrhoea (IBS-D)
  3. Constipation and diarrhoea occur back-to-back with mixed IBS (IBS-M).
  4. Individuals who don’t fit into the aforementioned types have unsub typed IBS (IBS-U).

IBS is not a life-threatening condition, nor does it increase your risk of developing other colon diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or colon cancer. However, it may develop into a chronic issue that alters your way of life. IBS sufferers might take more sick days from work or school and might feel less capable of participating in daily activities. Some people may need to alter their workplace, whether it be by working from home, working fewer hours, or even not working at all.

Symptom  of Irritate Bowel Syndrome IBS

IBS patients may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea (often described as violent episodes of diarrhea)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea is followed by constipation.
  • This causes abdominal discomfort or cramps, typically in the lower half of the stomach, that worsen after meals and disappear after a bowel movement.
  • bloating or excessive gas.
  • Unlike normal, harder or looser stools (pellets or flat ribbon stools),
  • A protruding stomach
  • The mucus in your faeces
  • Despite having just done so, I felt the need to go again.
  • A food allergy
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Being constantly thirsty

Sometimes, other things can make these symptoms appear. You probably had these symptoms on a weekly basis for three months, or less frequently for at least six months if you had IBS. During this period, IBS sufferers may experience more symptoms. Some individuals also experience urination issues or sexual issues. Stress can worsen symptoms.

When to call your  Doctor

Consult your doctor if an IBS symptom persists for a long time, if you develop a new symptom, if your pain worsens more than usual, or if it gets worse. You should also visit a doctor if your usual over-the-counter medications no longer relieve issues like diarrhoea, gas, or cramping.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Tell your doctor about any issues you have, even if you don’t believe they are caused by IBS physically. For instance, tell your doctor if the issue is causing you stress or anxiety, or if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Although IBS typically doesn’t result in more severe illnesses, there are some “red flags” to watch out for that could indicate something more serious is happening. A “red-flag” symptom is one that is unusual for IBS sufferers. Consult your doctor if you have any of these. You’ll need tests to figure out what’s going on.

Among the warning signs are:

Rectal Bleeding: It might just be a side effect of your constipation from irritable bowel syndrome, which is brought on by a tear in your antrum. Hemorrhoids are another potential source of the bleeding. However, if there is a significant amount of blood in your stool or if the bleeding simply won’t stop, you should seek medical help right away.

Weight Loss: It’s time to get it checked out if you discover that you’re losing weight without a cause.

Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, including anaemia, vomiting, or fever.

Causes and Risk Factors of Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

IBS symptoms can be brought on by a variety of factors, but the condition’s root cause is unknown to medical professionals.

Studies indicate that the colon can become hypersensitive and overreact to small stimuli. The bowel muscles spasm in place of making rhythmic, slow movements. Constipation or diarrhoea may result from that.

Another idea is that it might have something to do with chemicals in the body, like serotonin and gastrin, that control nerve signals between the brain and the digestive system.

Other scientists are investigating whether specific bacteria in the bowels can cause the condition.

Between 25 and 45 million Americans struggle with IBS. Some factors seem to increase a person’s likelihood of having it more than others:

  • Female Gender. Women are affected by the condition about twice as often as men. Although the cause is unclear, some researchers hypothesis that the fluctuating hormone levels associated with the menstrual cycle may be a factor. Studies to this point haven’t supported this.
  • Age. IBS can affect anyone at any age, but it tends to affect people more frequently in their teen years through their forties.
  • family history The disorder appears to run in families. Your genes may be involved, according to some studies.
  • Emotional distress Some IBS sufferers exhibit signs of stress or mental illness, or they may have experienced a traumatic event like sexual abuse or domestic violence. Which comes first, stress or IBS, is not entirely clear. But there is evidence that behavioral therapy and learning how to deal with stress can help some people with the condition feel better.
  • Foodstuff sensitivities. When they consume dairy, wheat, fructose, a sugar found in fruits, or the sugar substitute sorbitol, some people’s digestive systems may react violently. Alcohol, carbonated beverages, and fatty foods can all cause digestion problems. Even though there is no proof, any of these foods could make IBS symptoms worse.
  • Medications Studies have shown that antibiotics, antidepressants, and medicines with sorbitol can make IBS symptoms worse.
  • Other digestive issues, such as food poisoning, the stomach flu, or traveler’s diarrhea, are also listed. According to a small study that was released in January 2021, GI tract infections can alter the immune system so that it reacts to some foods as if they pose a threat, like germs or viruses. These initial findings are being studied by researchers.

Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

IBS cannot be diagnosed through specific laboratory procedures. Your doctor will determine whether your symptoms fall under the criteria for IBS and may order tests to rule out other conditions like:

  • Having food allergies or intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, or having a poor diet
  • drugs for high blood pressure, iron, and specific antacids, among others.
  • Infection
  • A lack of enzymes released by the pancreas, which prevents food from being properly digested or broken down.
  • Bowel inflammation disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Your physician may perform some of the tests listed below to determine if you have IBS.

  • Use a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to look for signs of blockage or inflammation in your intestines.
  • If you have heartburn or indigestion, get an upper endoscopy.
  • Blood tests to check for thyroid issues, signs of infection, and anaemia (lack of red blood cells)
  • tests on stool for infections or blood.
  • tests for gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, or lactose intolerance.
  • Diagnostic procedures to rule out bowel issues.

Treatment and Home Remedy of Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

The majority of IBS sufferers can receive treatment, but no one treatment is effective for all of them. To manage your symptoms, you and your doctor must come up with the best treatment strategy together.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Certain foods, medications, the presence of gas or stools, and emotional stress are just a few of the many things that can cause IBS symptoms. It’s important to identify your triggers. It’s possible that you’ll need to change your lifestyle and take medication.

Dietary and Lifestyle Modifications

IBS typically gets better over time with a few simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Here are some recommendations to reduce symptoms:

  • Beware of caffeine (in coffee, tea, and soda).
  • Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts can help you increase your intake of fibre.
  • At least three to four glasses of water should be consumed daily.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Reduce your stress levels or increase your physical activity to learn how to relax.
  • Eat cheese and milk in moderation.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently rather than larger ones.
  • Keep track of the meals you consume so you can determine which foods trigger IBS attacks.

Green onions, red wine, wheat, red peppers, and cow’s milk are typical food “triggers.” You can try to get calcium from other foods, such as broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, tofu, yoghurt, sardines, salmon with bones, calcium-fortified orange juice and breads, calcium supplements, or other foods if you’re worried about getting enough calcium.

A low-FODMAP diet, which limits the consumption of difficult-to-digest carbohydrates like wheat, beans, and specific fruits and vegetables, may be recommended by your doctor.


IBS can be treated with the following kinds of medications:

  • Bulking substances like psyllium, wheat bran, and corn fiber aid in slowing the passage of food through the digestive system and may also help with symptoms.
  • Antibiotics: The diversity of bacteria in your intestines can be altered by antibiotics like rifaximin (Xifaxan). Two weeks pass while you take the pills. For up to six months, it can keep symptoms under control. You can get more treatment if they return.

IBS symptoms may benefit from additional treatments.

Bloating and constipation

  • Antispasmodics can reduce colon muscle spasms, but medical professionals are divided on their efficacy. They may not be the best option for everyone due to their side effects, which include drowsiness and constipation.
  • Antidepressants. :Some people may also experience symptom relief from antidepressants.
  • Live bacteria and yeast are probiotics. They are good for your health, especially your digestive system, and doctors often recommend them to treat digestive problems.


  • Linaclotide Take one capsule of linaclotide (Linzess) once daily, preferably 30 minutes before your first meal of the day, on an empty stomach. By promoting more frequent bowel movements, it aids in the relief of constipation. No one under the age of 17 should use it. The most frequent adverse effect of the drug is diarrhoea.
  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza) When other treatments have failed to help, lubiprostone (Amitiza) can treat IBS in women who also have constipation. The effectiveness in men hasn’t been fully demonstrated by studies. Nausea, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain are typical side effects. Fainting, arm and leg swelling, breathing issues, heart palpitations, and other more serious side effects are possible.
  • plecanatide (Trulance): Constipation can be treated with plecanatide (Trulance) without the typical side effects of cramping and abdominal pain. Taking the once-daily pill with or without food is an option. It helps promote regular bowel movements and increases gastrointestinal fluid in your gut.
  • polyethylene glycol (PEG): Osmotic laxative polyethylene glycol (PEG) results in softer stools by keeping water in the stool. For those who cannot tolerate dietary fiber supplements, this medication might be most effective.
  •  Tegaserod A drug for women is called tegaserod. It operates by quickening the motion in your gut. This effect reduces the amount of time that stool spends in the bowel and lessens symptoms like stomach pain and constipation.
  • Tenapanor (IBSRELA) lessens abdominal pain while increasing bowel movements.


  • Alosetron (Lotronex) Only women with severe IBS-D whose symptoms are not relieved by other treatments should use alosetron (Lotronex), as it can help relieve stomach pain and slow your bowels to relieve diarrhoea. However, there can be serious side effects.
  •  Bile acid sequestrants. Drugs that lower cholesterol include bile acid sequestrants. When taken by mouth, they work in the intestines by binding bile acids and lowering the amount of stool made.
  • Eluxadoline (Viberzi) is prescribed to treat diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and bowel spasms.
  • Imodium (loperamide) functions by reducing the speed of gut motion. As a result, the number of bowel movements is reduced, and the stool becomes less watery.

When taking laxatives, which can become habit-forming if you don’t use them carefully, make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

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Ten questions to ask your doctor

It can be frightening to visit the doctor. You might be hurried and forget to ask crucial questions. Always prepare your questions ahead of time, and make notes as you speak with the doctor.

The following inquiries might be worthwhile. To take with you to your upcoming appointment, print out these questions.

  1. Could my symptoms of IBS be coming from another condition? Is it possible that I have colon cancer or IBS?
  2. If so, what information should I record in a diary of my IBS symptoms?
  3. Do I need to use laxatives or any other over-the-counter medications? If so, what kind and how frequently can they be taken without harm?
  4. Would increasing my dietary fibre intake alleviate my IBS symptoms? What kind and how much, if so?
  5. Should I talk to a dietitian, and can you suggest any other changes to my diet to help with IBS?
  6. Could meditation, counselling, or exercise help my irritable bowel syndrome?
  7. Should I use prescription drugs to treat my IBS symptoms? If so, what negative effects can I anticipate?
  8. Do you have any tests you would suggest, either now or in the future?
  9. Are there any other strategies or remedies I should be aware of?
  10. When should my follow-up appointment be?

Problems with the IBS

Other health issues may arise in the interim because finding a successful IBS treatment can take time. However, none of the complications pose a life-threatening risk. Cancer and other more serious bowel-related conditions do not result from IBS. These are a few of the health problems it may result in:

If you have been constipated for a long time, your colon may become blocked with stools. There are times when it can become too difficult to push out. Fecal impaction is the term for this. It might hurt and bring on symptoms like a headache, nauseousness, and vomiting. With older adults, it occurs most frequently. If you notice any indications that this might be taking place, see your doctor right away.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Food intolerance: Some foods may aggravate your IBS symptoms. For each person, what they are may vary. However, for some people, eliminating wheat, dairy, coffee, eggs, yeast, potatoes, and citrus fruits makes them feel better. Furthermore, sugar and fats can exacerbate diarrhoea. Your doctor might tell you to try a FODMAP diet to get rid of some carbohydrates that are hard to digest.
  • Reducing your intake of specific foods can help with IBS symptoms. Your body might not, however, receive all the nutrients it requires. You can find a diet that works for you with the help of a dietitian.
  • Hemorrhoids: Your anus, or opening where stool exits, can bleed and hurt if there are swollen blood vessels nearby. Stools that are extremely hard or loose can exacerbate the situation. The enlarged vessels may fall far enough to stick out if they are inside your anus. Hemorrhoids are typically treatable at home with a store-bought cream. Another option is to sit on an ice pack. Also, make sure the area is kept tidy.
  • Complications of pregnancy: Hormone changes and the physical pressure a growing baby places on the bowel wall may result in digestive problems. Many women also opt to stop using any IBS medications they may be using. The baby may benefit more from this. However, it can increase the likelihood that expectant mothers will experience indigestion and heartburn.
  • Life-quality: Relapses can occur at any time. You could experience diarrhoea at first and then become constipated. It can be challenging to go about your daily life when you can’t predict how you’ll feel.
  • Additionally, you probably visit the doctor frequently and are more likely to miss work than the average person. When working, it might be more difficult to concentrate. Exercise and meditation are two effective ways to reduce stress.
  • IBS sufferers frequently experience feelings of hopelessness and anxiety, as well as depression. If your symptoms are bad, you might always be trying to find the nearest bathroom.
  • Because your brain and gut are connected, this kind of stress may exacerbate your IBS. You may feel depressed as a result of the discomfort and uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing. Discussing your issues with a counsellor could be beneficial.

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