Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal condition that involves changes in frequency or form of bowel movements and lower abdominal pain.
The condition may be triggered by stress, diet, poor sleep and changes in gut bacteria. Triggers are different for each person, making it difficult to name specific foods or things that everyone with the disorder should avoid.
7 Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Pain and Cramping
Abdominal pain and cramping is perhaps the key factor in diagnosing IBS. To control proper digestion, our gut and brain functions together through hormones, nerves and signals released by the good bacteria that live in your gut.
These signals become distorted in IBS, leading to uncoordinated and painful tension in the muscles of the digestive tract which usually occurs in the lower abdomen or the entire abdomen. Pain typically decreases following a bowel movement. FODMAPs diet may improve pain and other symptoms.
Other treatments may include bowel relaxants like peppermint oil, cognitive behavior therapy and hypnotherapy.
Changes in Bowel Movements
As the intestine absorbs water, slow-moving stool often becomes dehydrated, which in turn causes the stool to be hard, which can worsen symptoms of constipation.
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Diarrhea can also occur if quick movement of stool through the intestine leaves little time for absorption of water, resulting in loose or watery stool.
IBS can also cause mucus to accumulate in stool, which is not usually associated with other causes of constipation.
Gas and Bloating
Most people with IBS note bloating as one of the most persistent symptoms of the disorder. More gas would be produced in the gut can cause bloating.
In a study of 337 IBS patients, 83% reported bloating and cramping. Both symptoms were more common in women and in constipation-predominant IBS or mixed types of IBS.
Diarrhea affects about one-third of patients with IBS. A study of 200 adults discovered that those with diarrhea-predominant IBS had, on average, 12 bowel movements weekly, which is more than twice the amount of adults without IBS. Stool in the diarrhea-predominant type of IBS appears to be loose and watery and may contain mucus.
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About 70% of individuals with IBS report that some foods can generate symptoms. Two-thirds of people with IBS actively avoid certain foods. Sometimes these individuals exclude multiple foods from the diet.
Food intolerances are not allergies, and trigger foods don’t cause measurable differences in digestion.
Trigger foods are different for everyone, but some common ones may include gas-producing foods, such as lactose, gluten, and FODMAPs.
Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. Apart from diarrhea, IBS can also cause constipation. Constipation-predominant IBS is the most common type of IBS. Altered signal between the brain and bowel may accelerate or slow down the normal transit time of stool. When transit time slows, the bowel absorbs more water from stool, and it becomes more difficult to expel.
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Constipation in IBS includes abdominal pain that eases with bowel movements. It often causes a sensation of a partial bowel movement, thereby leading to unnecessary straining.
Fatigue and Difficulty Sleeping
Most people with IBS report experiencing fatigue and insomnia. A study of 160 adults diagnosed with IBS described low stamina that limited physical activity, leisure and social interactions. IBS can also cause difficulty falling asleep, waking frequently and feeling restless in the morning.
Note: These symptoms can also be related to other health conditions. So, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis if you experience any of the signs mentioned above.
Source: healthline, Dr. Axe
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