What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

[caption id="attachment_35082" align="alignnone" width="856"]Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain and discomfort IBS Causes GI Pain and Discomfort[/caption]

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning your GI tract is behaving in an abnormal way without evidence of damage. Symptoms include abdominal pain and discomfort and changes in bowel movement patterns. Studies estimate that twice as many women as men are diagnosed with IBS and that they are usually under the age of 50.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there are four types of IBS based on stool consistency. It is important to differentiate between them, as treatment will vary based on type.

  1. IBS with constipation, or IBS-C
  • hard or lumpy stools at least 25 percent of the time
  • loose or watery stools less than 25 percent of the time
  1. IBS withdiarrhea, or IBS-D
  • loose or watery stools at least 25 percent of the time
  • hard or lumpy stools less than 25 percent of the time
  1. Mixed IBS, or IBS-M
  • Hard or lumpy stools at least 25 percent of the time
  • Loose or watery stools at least 25 percent of the time
  1. Unsubtyped IBS, or IBS-U
  • Hard or lumpy stools less than 25 percent of the time
  • Loose or watery stools less than 25 percent of the time

Symptoms

The pain or discomfort of IBS often feels like cramping and has at least two of the following:

  • Your pain or discomfort improves after a bowel movement.
  • You notice a change in how often you have a bowel movement.
  • You notice a change in the way your stools look.

IBS is a chronic disorder often lasting years. However, the symptoms may come and go. People with IBS may have diarrhea, constipation, or both. Some people with IBS have only diarrhea or only constipation. Some people have symptoms of both or have diarrhea sometimes and constipation other times. Most people experience symptoms soon after eating a meal.

Other symptoms of IBS are

  • Bloating
  • The feeling that you haven’t finished a bowel movement
  • Whitish mucus in your stool

While IBS can be painful, IBS doesn’t lead to other health problems or cause damage to your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Treatment

Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not have a cure. However, you can manage the symptoms with a combination of dietary changes, medicines and probiotics. You may have to try a few treatments to see what works best for you.

Many who suffer from IBS have found relief with the use of probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms—tiny organisms that can be seen only with a microscope. These microorganisms, most often bacteria, are like the microorganisms that are normally present in your GI tract. Studies have found that taking probiotics, specifically Bifidobacteria and certain probiotic combinations, can improve symptoms of IBS.