Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) particularly the large intestine. Its other names are functional bowel syndrome, spastic colon, and irritable colon. IBS does not emanate from defective or abnormal colon; however, the peristaltic movement in IBS patients seems to be impaired. Foods may either pass too quickly or too slowly in the intestines causing the symptoms to appear. The disorder cannot cause colon cancer and it's neither hereditary nor contagious. However, IBS can disrupt life functions and sufferers may experience social neglect because of their frequent trip to the bathroom. In severe cases, sufferers may even be unable to work, participate in an event, or travel because of the symptoms. Women tend to develop irritable bowel syndrome more than men, and 50 percent of sufferers say their symptoms appeared before the age of 35.
The disruption of the proper bowel movement in IBS patients doesn't have one definite cause. Some doctors, however, believe that IBS may be caused by impaired nerve impulse transmission between the brain and the intestinal muscles responsible for moving the bowel. But there are known trigger factors of IBS such as stress, food allergies, certain type of medicine, heightened emotional responses, and even hormonal changes. These factors are said to trigger the miscommunication between the brain and the intestinal muscles.
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person. They could include abdominal cramps or pain, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation (a patient may experience diarrhoea in some episodes and constipation in the other), and mucus in the stool. Suffers also complain about the feeling of urgency to pass stool during an IBS episode or the feeling of unable to pass stool completely. These symptoms also appear in other diseases so that it's very important to discuss the symptoms with a doctor to rule out other possible causes.
Since the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not known, doctors can only give patients advice and medications to avoid triggering the symptoms. For constipation, a patient may be given artificial fiber such as psyllium and methylcellulose to help moisten the stool. Diarrhoea symptoms are relieved by giving over-the-counter diarrhoea medications such as loperamide. Patients prone to develop bloating are advised to avoid foods that trigger gas formation such as carbonated drinks, salads, some fruits and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Psychological and emotional triggers can also be relieved by giving antidepressant or stress medications to avoid triggering the IBS symptoms.
The best home remedy for irritable bowel syndrome is diet modification avoiding foods that trigger IBS symptoms. This may include avoiding milk products, caffeine, soda, and certain types of fruits and vegetables. Probiotic treatment, which is taking in live, helpful bacteria from yogurt and other food products, can also help. If IBS symptoms are stress-related, then stress management such as yoga, exercise, and even acupuncture is advised.