Irritable Bowel SyndromeIrritable Bowel Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Stages and Treatments

Commonly asked questions about Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a common disorder affecting the large intestine. Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating gas, diarrhea, and constipation. This is a chronic condition that needs to be managed long-term; however, only a small number of people have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress while others need medication and counseling.

What are the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Symptoms of IBS can vary widely from person to person, yet these are the most common side effects that are directly and indirectly related to irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bloated
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation – alternating
  • Mucus in the stool

IBS is a chronic condition for most people, and therefore, there will be times where symptoms worsen, or disappear completely.

What are the Risk Factors of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Researchers are still unaware of the direct cause of IBS, but these risk factors have been found to contribute to the development of IBS:

  • Gender – Twice as many women are likely to obtain this condition and it is not clear why. Some researchers believe that it’s due to changing hormones in their menstrual cycle.
  • Age – IBS can affect people of all ages, but it is more likely for people in their teens up to 40 years old.
  • Family history – Genes may play a role when obtaining IBS, as having a family member with the disease increases your likelihood of developing it as well.
  • Emotional trouble – Some people with irritable bowel syndrome may have an irregular amount of stress, have a mental disorder, or have been through a traumatic event in their lives. Stress management and behavioral therapy can help relieve some of these symptoms.
  • Food sensitivity – Some victims of IBS may have digestive systems that rumble angrily when eating dairy, wheat, fructose, or a sugar substitute. Fatty foods, carbonated drinks, and alcohol can also contribute to its disruption.
  • Stress eating/Large meals – Eating while driving or working aren’t direct causes of IBS, but if one has a sensitive colon it can be a possibility that this can trigger its symptoms.
  • Medications – IBS symptoms and antibiotics, antidepressants, and drugs made with sorbitol have been shown to have a direct link.
  • Digestive problems – Traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning may trigger a person’s first IBS symptoms.

It is crucial to discuss with your doctor the common risks that result in irritable bowel syndrome, as symptoms can indicate what is truly disturbing your large intestine.

What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The direct cause for irritable bowel syndrome is unknown, but health experts believe that faulty communication between the brain and intestinal tract is an overarching contributing factor. Abnormal muscle contractions or spasms often cause cramping pain, as well as conflict with speeding up or slowing down the passage of stool, leading to diarrhea or constipation and bloating, respectively.

Unusually sensitive intestines in people with IBS is highly common, however It isn’t known why their intestines are more like to react strongly to the elements that contribute to irritable bowel syndrome.  People who do have this may begin to experience some symptoms.

What are the Types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

There are three main types of IBS. They include:

  • IBS with constipation – Stomach pain and discomfort, bloating, abnormal or infrequent bowel movement, or a lumpy/hard stool.
  • IBS with diarrhea – Stomach pain and discomfort, an urgency to move bowels, abnormally frequent bowel movements, or loose/watery stool.
  • IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea

There is about an equal number of people with irritable bowel syndrome in each category, and most will alternate between types over time.

What is Used to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The first line of treatment for irritable bowel syndrome includes lifestyle changes, medicines, and counseling to overcome symptoms felt.

Lifestyle Changes

Dietary or stress-related factors may be related to symptoms and can be discussed with a health care provider. If certain foods cause discomfort or pain occurs after eating, it may be helpful to regulate intake, and avoid foods that cause irritation.

Increased stress may result in the onset or worsening of IBS symptoms and associated non-bowel syndromes such as fatigue or low energy. Proper rest and exercise can help reduce stress levels and positively influence IBS.


Psychological and behavioral therapies may be effective in certain individuals. Examples include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – allows the individual to regain personal skills as well as mental techniques to better manage the symptoms.
  • Hypnosis – allows for a reduction of pain
  • Relaxing training – general body relaxation
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy – addresses stressful responses to interactions with others.

How do I Prevent Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

You cannot prevent irritable bowel syndrome, but proper self-care may help ease symptoms and may extend the time between episodes. Self-care includes:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding caffeine and irritable foods
  • Regular exercise
  • Managing stress

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