The Truth About Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you have ever had an attack of diarrhea, you can only begin to imagine what it is like to live with the signs of IBS. In fact, this is an uncomfortable illness that affects many segments of the population, from the young to the old. While some patients can control most or all of their symptoms of IBS with some minor adjustments to their diet, other patients require medication and other forms of clinical treatment. Some patients will receive close supervision by a physician specializing in gastrointestinal diseases. The bottom line with IBS is that you can experience painful attacks of diarrhea, constipation, and belly pain at any time, and you are more likely to suffer these when you are sick or living with high levels of stress. You cannot ignore frequent bowel problems because they could indicate the presence of other medical conditions.
The Signs and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
This syndrome affects more women than men and tends to target people between their teens and middle age. The most common symptoms can vary from diarrhea to constipation more often than a person typically experiences and/or having a different kind of fecal matter, such as a stool that is thicker, thinner, harder, or softer. Adults are usually aware of their normal bowel pattern, and so this syndrome captures their attention because they experience stools outside their norm. Having prolonged constipation or diarrhea can prevent the body from getting the nutrients necessary for health. Some patients with IBS tend to lose a lot of water through thin stools and must drink lots of water to avoid dehydration. Patients may also experience a swollen gastrointestinal cavity, which is caused by inflammation of the bowel, and other symptoms like a feeling of gas being trapped in the chest and belly pain. One of the ways that people learn to live with this disease is to avoid foods that produce these and other effects of IBS. People also develop habits of finding the bathroom in familiar places. Having a bowel movement itself when you have IBS can be very painful, even during bouts of intense diarrhea.
Living With IBS
It is common for people who have constant or recurrent IBS to adjust their lifestyle at home and in the workplace. They may think that the symptoms are temporary and postpone seeking medical assistance. They may feel embarrassed to use public restrooms. They may have more absences from work or school and avoid certain activities they used to enjoy. The discomfort of the symptoms of IBS and the need to frequently use the restroom can affect a patient’s overall quality of life. Living with IBS starts with seeking diagnosis from a licensed physician. This person will ask you about your bowel patterns, symptoms, eating habits, stressors, and other medical conditions that could affect your intestines. Some patients will also need further testing, such as studies of the colon to pinpoint specific problems that are causing the bowel to become inflamed. Severe forms of IBS can cause some patients to be hospitalized and to have surgical procedures to correct serious bowel problems. Some patients may need pain medications or anti-inflammatory medications to manage their complaints. It’s best to seek treatment for IBS as soon as you suspect that you might have it or a related intestinal condition.