Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipa- tion, or both. IBS is a chronic condition that needs patience & persistence.
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Hence worse or more frequent signs and symptoms during periods of increased stress. But while stress may aggravate symptoms, it doesn’t cause them.
Hormones: Women are twice as likely to have IBS, which might indicate that hormonal changes play a role. Many women find that signs and symptoms are worse during or around their menstrual periods.
Complications Chronic constipation or diarrhea can cause hemorrhoids. In addition, IBS is associated with:
Poor quality of life. Many people with moderate to severe IBS report poor quality of life. Research indicates that people with IBS miss three times as many days from work as do those without bowel symptoms.
Mood disorders. Experiencing the signs and symptoms of IBS can lead to depression or anxiety. Depression and anxiety also can make IBS worse.
Diagnosis There’s no test to definitively diagnose IBS. Your doctor is likely to start with a complete medical history, physical exam and tests to rule out other conditions. If you have IBS with diarrhea, you likely will be tested for gluten intolerance (celiac disease).
After other conditions have been ruled out, your doctor is likely to use one of these sets of diagnostic criteria for IBS: Your doctor may recommend several tests, including stool studies to check for infection or problems with your intestine’s ability to take in the nutrients from food (malabsorption). You may also have a number of other tests to rule out other causes for your symptoms.
Imaging tests can include:
Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Your doctor examines the lower part of the colon (sigmoid) with a flexible, lighted tube (sigmoidoscope).
Colonoscopy: Your doctor uses a small, flexible tube to examine the entire length of the colon.
X-ray or CT scan: These tests produce images of your abdomen and pelvis that might allow your doctor to rule out other causes of your symptoms, especially if you have abdominal pain. Your doctor might fill your large intestine with a liquid (barium) to make any problems more visible on X-ray. This barium test is sometimes called a lower GI series.
Laboratory tests can include:
Lactose intolerance tests: Lactase is an enzyme you need to digest the sugar found in dairy products. If you don’t produce lactase, you may have problems similar to those caused by IBS, including abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea. Your doctor may order a breath test or ask you to remove milk and milk products from your diet for several weeks.
Breath test for bacterial overgrowth: A breath test also can determine if you have bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine. Bacterial overgrowth is more common among people who have had bowel surgery or who have diabetes or some other disease that slows down digestion.
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