If you are suffering from constipation, diarrhea, or both, abdominal pain, bloating, and heartburn more than once a month, you may have something called Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. Also known as "nervous stomach," "irritable colon," "spastic colon," and "functional bowel disorder," this condition is accompanied by the following symptoms:
IBS isn't really a disease. It's a collection of symptoms that cause discomfort and abdominal distress. It is one of the most frequent reasons people consult doctors with an estimated one of every six Americans - some forty million people - suffering this problem to some degree. Gastroenterologists estimate that half of their patients have it. IBS is referred to by several names including spastic colon, spastic colitis, and mucous colitis.
- pain in the middle and lower abdomen (often on the left side)
- cramping in the abdomen
What's Going On?
IBS is a problem with how the colon works. The colon of people with this condition often appears normal with no ulcers, polyps, tumors, blockages, or other structural problems. In severe cases, however, IBS symptoms may resemble those of more serious colon problems.
Digested food leaves the stomach in liquid form and passes into the large intestine, also known as the colon or large bowel. The colon removes most of the water and nutrients from it, leaving semi-solid stools. These move through the colon, into the rectum, and out the anus because of wavelike contractions called "peristalsis." Peristalsis should be a gentle, hardy noticeable process. But in IBS, for the reasons that usually remain a mystery, the contractions become irregular, poorly coordinated, and at times unusually forceful or lethargic. This results in the pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other symptoms of IBS.
Before You Call the Doctor
There are many things you can do for self-care with this condition, though it may take a while to resolve.
You may want to Limit your consumption of the following foods.
- If diarrhea is a problem, beware of foods that have a laxative effect, including fruits, coffee, and other beverages that contain caffeine. Increase your fluid intake to avoid dehydration.
- If constipation is a problem, increase your fiber intake and exercise more. Limit consumption of binding foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea.
- Keep a food diary to find out what foods are always followed by symptoms so that you can avoid those foods.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Make an effort to reduce stress, it can often aggravate symptoms.
- Avoid the diet sweetener sorbitol
- To relieve pain in the abdominal area, try taking a hot bath or applying a heating pad to the lower abdomen.
- When you feel the need to move your bowels, do so. Delaying this can lead to constipation later.
Prescription drugs are available to teat IBS including antispasmodics, laxatives, antidiarrheals, and muscle relaxants. These prescription drugs can sometimes cause bothersome side effects or even make things worse because your digestive tract is already irritated by the condition. Doctors are increasingly recommending self-care for IBS.
- high fat foods
- fast foods
- gas producing foods: beans, legumes and carbonated beverages
In some cases IBS is mistaken for other conditions or diseases. If you suspect IBS, tests should be performed to rule out diverticular disease, intestinal parasites (such as giardiasis), and other more serious problems.
When to Call the Doctor
- If you pass bloody or black stools
- If vomiting occurs with your abdominal symptoms
- If pain becomes severe or changes from periodic to constant
- If fever occurs with your abdominal symptoms
- If you self-care for two weeks without success
New IBS Treatment Released
In 2011 a new product was released called the IBS Relief System.
Could I be pregnant?
This really helped me a lot,, although I have ? question and I would really like for you response to it,,, I have been sexually active and I have been feeling very bloated and had many headaches aswell as abdominal pain, I had no morning sickness at all!! I have taken ? pregnancy test which came out negative,, could I still be pregnant?
AskDocWeb: Not all women get morning sickness so that may not apply to you. Feeling bloated is the number one symptom that indicates pregnancy. Here are the most likely indicators:
Did you do a second home test for pregnancy a week after the first one?
- Abdominal bloating
- Heightened sensitivity to odors
- Nausea or vomiting
- Frequent urination
- Tender, swollen breasts
- Missed period
- Implantation bleeding
- Your basal body temperature stays high
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