What is the Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder which can cause troublesome and persistent symptoms. These vary greatly from person to person, but usually include cramping discomfort, a feeling of fullness or bloating, and a change or disruption of bowel habit. This can range from constipation (difficult or infrequent passage of a motion) to diarrhoea (frequent or loose motions and an urgent need to go), or can alternate between the two.

Irritable bowel syndrome is not:

  • Hereditary, although other members of the family may have similar symptoms;
  • Food allergy, although some patients find they are intolerant of particular foods;
  • “all in the mind”, even though test results may be normal; An infection, although it may have been triggered by an initial attack of gastro- enteritis;
  • Bowel inflammation, as in the case of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease;
  • Caused by ulcers, gallstones, cancer or other more serious digestive diseases, although some patients with these conditions may have some symptoms in common with IBS at some stage.
  • Abdominal pain, which is often colicky in nature. It may be felt anywhere in the abdomen, but is often low down on the left. Many patients find their pain is worse when constipated, and it may be relieved by opening the bowels or passing flatus (wind from the back passage). In women there may be a pattern associated with their periods.
  • Fullness and bloating, making clothes feel tight and uncomfortable and sometimes associated with rumbling noises and flatulence (wind). The abdomen may feel tender. Belching and passing wind through the back passage can ease this. Nausea can occur but vomiting is not usually a feature of IBS.
  • Alteration in bowel habit, which may be constipation, diarrhoea or an alternation between the two. Bowel habit varies enormously between individuals, though most people have their own pattern. The change in bowel habit may be in the frequency of action, the form of the motions, or associated urgency (rushing to go). There may be some discomfort or difficulty in opening the bowels. A sensation of incomplete emptying is common. Ineffectual straining to pass a motion (tenesmus) and a sharp pain felt low down inside the back passage (proctalgia fugax) are also common. Incontinence can occasionally occur, causing great embarrassment and anxiety.

These guidelines were produced in association with the British Society of Gastroenterology – The Professional Society for Gastroenterologists.

Information Courtesy of:
Digestive Disorders Foundation

For Further information visit the website:
www.digestivedisorders.org.uk

The Digestive Disorders Foundation is the only UK charity which supports research into the cause, prevention and treatment of all digestive disorders. Among those we seek to help are sufferers of disorders such as digestive cancers, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, gall-stones, liver disease and pancreatitis. Introduction to the disabilities

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