Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a mixture of abdominal symptoms for which there's no apparent cause. Symptoms include constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain.
It is a very common with estimates suggest that as many as 20% of adults in the UK have IBS at any one time. IBS is more common in women. In the UK about 13 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men have IBS.
IBS is where the normal gut movement that propels the food through the gut changes. The best way to regard IBS is as a loss of coordination of these muscular contractions.
In addition, there's evidence that people with IBS have increased sensitivity within the gut to external stimuli, such as stress. This means IBS is often the outcome of a complex interaction between psychological and physical factors.
Causes of irritable bowel syndrome?
The causes of IBS is largely unknown. However some interesting figures are:
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Although IBS can be a distressing condition, it never causes bowel cancer or bowel damage. IBS symptoms can start at any age, but they are most common in late teenage years or early adulthood.
The five most common symptoms are:
Your symptoms will depend on which parts of the gut are involved.
Self Help steps to prevent Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Since the cause of IBS is unknown, it's not possible to reliably prevent symptoms.
The following strategies can help your digestive system and so may improve the condition.
What else can improve IBS?
Which medicines are used?
There is no single treatment to tackle all symptoms of IBS, although several types of serotonin antagonists are under trial, some with encouraging results. Medicines can relieve specific symptoms of IBS, depending on which is giving you most trouble. But by controlling some symptoms, a medicine may make others worse.
IBS usually occurs periodically throughout life BUT it is not a life-threatening.
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