Certain individuals visit a doctor complaining of abdominal discomfort, bloating and frequent changes in digestive habits. They may complain of loose stools, constipation, or both occurring in an alternate manner. Investigative tests reveal no abnormalities or pathologies. In such a case, a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is put forward.
IBS is diagnosed when all relevant investigations show normal findings, and yet, symptoms are being experienced for more than 3 days of the month for atleast 3 successive months. The symptoms include:
Discomfort in the abdomen
Pain in the abdomen that can be dull or cramping
Bloated sensation with or without passage of gas
Alternating loose stools and constipation
The name itself suggests an irritated bowel.This means that there are certain factors that can functionally irritate the intestines into behaving abnormally although there is no real pathological change.
Some factors are:
Emotional stress:Stress is responsible for an initial increase in the functions of the body,including the digestive system. Excess excitation of the intestines results in changes in bowel habits and gives rise to the symptoms of IBS. That is why it is commonly seen in people suffering from Anxiety or Depression.
Digestive infections:Certain infections can serve as a base to irritate the intestines in such a way that even after they are cleared, the irritation persists.
Genetics:IBS has been seen in some studies to be passed on from generation to generation.