Continuous digestive issues are one of the main problems that have emerged today as a result of poor diets that are filled with empty calories and harmful substances. These are also the reason why we have so many sensitivities and food allergies.
Diarrhea, even in its chronic form, is a prevalent condition that is no longer a big deal. In fact, you might get stomach flu or diarrhea – both of which are the body’s defense mechanisms against harmful substances, every other week.
However, if you get frequent digestive issues and experience a number of other symptoms, you might be having a serious digestive tract disorder.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the types of digestive and gastrointestinal disorders and is characterized by a number of symptoms including mild to severe pain in the abdomen and alterations in bowel movements.
This particular type of syndrome is different from others in the sense that your symptoms, effects, and overall experience can be at odds with another person who too, has irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms may also change with diet, stress, and lifestyle.
Today, over 10% of the population in the world is reportedly affected by the irritable bowel syndrome. Though it can happen to anyone, women between the ages of 30-40 tend to have it more often. Almost twice as many women either have it or are the risk of developing it in comparison with men.
Keeping the symptoms of the irritable bowel syndrome is of great importance as there is no proper way to prove whether a person has it or not. A doctor might need to observe the effects and changes in your body for several months to confirm its diagnosis.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, the most commonly seen signs of the irritable bowel syndrome are changes in the bowel movements and perpetual pain in the abdominal area along with different consistencies of stool.
Though it may not be possible to confirm the existence of IBS, at least for several months, it is, fortunately, possible to diagnose it through many of its symptoms besides the two mentioned before.
What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
As mentioned before, your experience and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome might be different from another person. Similarly, the exact causes behind you getting it would also be different depending on your diet and lifestyle.
Majority of the people tend to believe IBS is linked with other digestive issues or food allergies that can collectively block a structural issue or an actual physical blockage in the digestive system. They might be worsening your IBS symptoms and mentioning them can be of good use when treating IBS. Also, neither of that happens in IBS.
However, most of the researchers have concluded that the main causes of irritable bowel syndrome are not any food allergy but the abnormal functioning of the muscles, nerves, and enzymes within the whole of the digestive tract.
Another factor that is linked to the functioning of these muscles, nerves, and enzymes in the digestive tract is the level of stress and workload you have. This is because of the fact that the track and gut are closely related to your brain.
The digestive tract receives the orders and signals from your brain in the Central Nervous System through the vagus nerve that can disturb the processes within. Your emotions can also affect your digestion because whatever you are feeling can affect the neurotransmitter production.
During digestion, certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin are needed. The production of this particular neurotransmitter can be greatly affected by what you are feeling. Constant mood shifts and feelings can also give mixed signals to the gut and disturb its function.
In addition to all of these, there can be a variety of other causes behind you getting irritable bowel syndrome which can also not be very common. Some of the other reported causes of irritable bowel syndrome are:
- Chronic Stress(both continuous and temporary)
- Sudden changes in sleep routines
- Circadian rhythm
- Family history and genetics
- Certain changes in the atmosphere (such as moving to high altitudes with different atmospheric pressure)
- Poor diet
- Hormonal changes and imbalance (especially in women during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause)
- Certain medications
Management of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can only be done by the person having it but this does not mean going to the doctor is not necessary. Not only can your doctor help give you appropriate medication at times but can also help you tell if you really have IBS.
Many times people ski visits to the doctor which either results in them worsening their IBS or ignoring conditions that can be even more serious than IBS. The common symptoms of IBS can be at times confused with other problems.
Consider seeing a doctor as soon as possible if you experience the following:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Blood in stools
- Low levels of energy and iron (anemic symptoms)
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Night Sweats
- Blurred visions
- Frequent migraines/headaches
These signs can be confused with those of irritable bowel syndrome. Typically these are the symptoms of anemia, infections, and even thyroid or kidney disorders.
Can Irritable Bowel Syndrome be diagnosed by comparison?
Irritable bowel syndrome can only be confirmed once the observation period which lasts usually for 6-8 months is over. Since abdominal pains and changes in consistency of stool are fairly common, it is necessary to wait for a proper diagnosis of the syndrome.
In addition to the time that is needed for IBS diagnosis, the kind of symptoms and their occurrences matter a lot. Some people may have very different irritable bowel syndrome symptoms that can also occur in a distinctive way that yours.
For example, for some people, the symptoms of IBS can occur collectively in a continuous period of 3-9 days. For others, IBS symptoms can last much longer but might not be that severe or occur separately. Some might have only 2-3 of the symptoms that are the most prominent.
Therefore it is important to not compare yourself to another person who happens to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. It can also confuse your doctor and increase chances of a wrong diagnosis. Always remember that you can have other underlying problems like thyroid disorders rather than IBS.
What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
The important IBS symptoms that you can watch out for during the observation 6-8 months period are the following:
- Changes in bowel movements which means frequent attacks of both diarrhea and constipation. In most cases, one of them is worse than the other but you can have both at the same time as well.
- Gas and burping
- Loss of appetite or not being able to eat as much as you can
- Acid reflux
- Bloating around the stomach
- Abdominal pain and cramps just like the ones experienced by women caused by menstrual cycles
- Frequent changes in appearance and consistency of the stool
Irritable bowel syndrome can have symptoms other than the ones related to the digestive tract because of its connection with the brain. If you have IBS you can also experience the following
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in sexual behavior including reduced sexual drive
- Anxiety and depression
- Frequent urination
- Visible effects of increased stress on the body such as breakouts and weight loss/gain
- Unpleasant taste and odor in the mouth