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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): All You Need to Know

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?|Symptoms|Causes and Risk Factors|Management and Treatment|Prevention
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): All You Need to Know

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects about 10-15% of the world’s population. It’s not one specific disease per se, but a group of symptoms that affects a person’s digestive system.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome causes pain in the abdomen, changes in bowel movements, and general discomfort in the digestive tract. It mainly affects the large intestine, though it’s possible for the small intestine to also be affected by IBS.

Generally speaking, IBS does not usually pose a significant risk to a person’s health. However, this condition causes significant discomfort, pain, and can even lead to conditions such as hemorrhoids.

This is why it if you feel that your condition might be affecting your quality of life, consult your doctor.

Symptoms

The symptoms of an irritable bowel can vary from person to person. Here are some of the possible symptoms that a person with IBS might experience:

People with this condition can experience any combination of the symptoms above. Sometimes the symptoms can also change, but a person with IBS usually experiences these symptoms for extended periods of time. A less common symptom is whitish mucus found in the stool.

Signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: All You Need to Know

Causes and Risk Factors

The causes of irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person. IBS is not a specific illness, but rather a group of symptoms that can be caused by different things.

Additionally, the exact cause of IBS is still a mystery to scientists. However, there are some things that scientists believe increase the risk of developing IBS:

Risk factors

The risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome include the following:

  • Being aged 50 or younger
  • Women are more prone to IBS than men
  • Irritable bowel syndrome can also be passed down if it runs in the family
  • Being prone to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions puts a person at risk of IBS

It’s also possible for a person who’s not at risk to experience IBS. It is a fairly common condition, and it’s not impossible for someone to experience it at one point in their lives.

Management and Treatment

When it comes to treating IBS, the strategy would be to manage the symptoms that a person is experiencing.

This means that you might need to take over-the-counter medication if you’re experiencing diarrhea or constipation. In some cases, your doctor might prescribe fiber supplements to help regulate your bowel movements.

It’s also possible for doctors to prescribe pain medication if you’re also experiencing pain in your abdomen because of IBS.

For people suffering from depression or anxiety, antidepressants might help mitigate the effects of IBS.

Prevention

Here are some tips when it comes to preventing IBS:

Have a healthy diet

Try to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet to help prevent IBS. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, and can help regulate your bowel movements.

Also try to eat less fatty foods, meat, and processed foods as much as possible. Eating foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt and other fermented foods can also boost the good bacteria in your stomach to help prevent irritable bowel syndrome.

It is also a good idea to avoid foods that can increase flatulence, such as onions, beans, celery, and carrots.

Exercise daily

Exercise not only helps you stay fit and healthy, but also helps regulate your bowel movements. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day in order to stay fit and healthy.

Seek help for any mental health concerns

If you’re prone to anxiety, depression, or even stress, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Undergoing therapy can sometimes help lower the risk of IBS, and also helps you manage triggers of your condition before it starts.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Symptoms & Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome | NIDDK, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes, Accessed December 16, 2020

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) | NIDDK, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome, Accessed December 16, 2020

Irritable Bowel Syndrome | IBS | MedlinePlus, https://medlineplus.gov/irritablebowelsyndrome.html, Accessed December 16, 2020

Irritable bowel syndrome | womenshealth.gov, https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/irritable-bowel-syndrome, Accessed December 16, 2020

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) | NHS inform, https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs#symptoms-of-ibs, Accessed December 16, 2020

Irritable bowel syndrome – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016#:~:text=Irritable%20bowel%20syndrome%20(IBS)%20is,need%20to%20manage%20long%20term., Accessed December 16, 2020

Facts About IBS, https://www.aboutibs.org/facts-about-ibs.html#:~:text=IBS%20affects%20people%20of%20all,under%20the%20age%20of%2050., Accessed December 16, 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 3 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.
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