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Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Cause and Treatment

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or as it is sometimes called Spastic Colon or Mucous Colitis or Spastic Colitis or Nervous Stomach or Irritable Colon, is a functional disorder and not a disease. A functional disorder refers to a problem with the functioning of a particular organ within the body, in this case, the Bowel.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects up to 20% of the population. In fact, it is one of the most common conditions diagnosed by gastroenterologists. However, as with a number of complaints, it is common for patients to be reluctant to come forward due to the area of the body it concerns.

For the vast majority of patients, it is a chronic condition, however, the symptoms may vary in their strength from being a mild inconvenience to being quite debilitating.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome refers to the muscles within the bowel contracting stronger and for longer than is normal. This causes food to be passed through the intestine quicker than it should which will show itself in a number of symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are quite uncomfortable in the main. However, one of the problems with diagnosing it, is the problem that the symptoms for Irritable Bowel Syndrome are the same as for other digestive conditions.

The symptoms are as follows

Crampy pain in the stomach
Painful diarrhea or constipation (or sometimes both)
Mucus in your stools
Swollen or blocked abdomen
Feeling that you haven’t completed your bowel movement.


Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The most common way of diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome is by listening to the symptoms of the patient and then going through a process of elimination of other digestive disorders. This can be quite difficult and often involves a process of trial and error until other conditions have been eliminated.

On top of investigating the symptoms you may need to undergo one or some of the following medical investigations. These are

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – examination of the lower part of the colon with a flexible lighted tube.

Colonoscopy – small flexible tube which is used to examine the whole length of the colon

Computerized Topography (CT) Scan – This produces a cross sectional series of x-rays which are used to rule out other causes of the symptoms the patient is suffering.

Lactose Intolerance Tests – If the patient lacks the enzyme lactase, then the patient will struggle to digest the sugars found in dairy products. This may produce similar symptoms to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Blood Tests – This is done to rule out Celiac Disease which is a sensitivity to wheat protein which may also cause similar symptoms to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Nobody has a definitive answer as to what causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There are a number of theories as to the cause though.

One theory is that the nerves which control sensations and muscle contractions are to blame.

Another theory is that problems within the Central Nervous System could be the reason for this functional disorder.

Statistics have shown that 2 – 3 times more women suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so that could indicate that the problem could be due to hormonal issues.

How to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

As it isn’t know what causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is therefore difficult if not impossible to cure. However, there are many ways of alleviating the symptoms. All of these include dietary and/or lifestyle changes which will make the patient much more comfortable if eradicate the symptoms almost entirely. These include

Keeping a food diary – by working out which foods trigger an attach of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the patient can eliminate these from their diet

One common trigger is eating large meals and also by eating spicy, fried or fatty foods.

If constipation is one of the symptoms, then by increasing the patients water intake and also by increasing the amount of fiber in the diet, the constipation will be reduced.

If diarrhea is a problem then by reducing the amount of fiber in the diet, will hopefully alleviate that symptom.

Cutting our or at least reducing tea, coffee, tea, milk, cola drinks and beer, will make the patient much more comfortable.

Eating at regular intervals can also help

Stop smoking.

Sometimes stress can trigger the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. To relieve that, there are a number of exercises which will reduce the patient’s level of stress.

Most of these pieces of advice would probably benefit most people in today’s society however, they have proven to be particularly beneficial to sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


In summary, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a very common functional disorder affecting a significant number of the population. It is very difficult to diagnose, however, treatment is usually a case of changing diet and or lifestyle.


About the Author: For more information and resources, feel free to take a look at my website IBS Info which contains loads of information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For more information on Constipation, have a look here Constipation which contains loads of useful info. If you’re suffering from any medical condition, the best advice to receive is to get advice from a doctor whether you feel embarrassed or not, it is the best advice you’ll get.




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