Pain and cramps are the main symptoms
- Pain or cramps in the abdomen often related to the bowel movements
- Changes in the bowel movements which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both occurring alternately depending upon the type of IBS a person has
Other symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome include:
- Bloating or distention (a feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen)
- Feeling that you have not finished a bowel movement
- Whitish, sticky discharge (mucus) in the stool
- Symptoms of indigestion such as nausea, heartburn, and gas
What is IBS?
IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a medical condition affecting the large bowel. It is a type of functional bowel or gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. This means that although it causes disturbing symptoms, it does not cause any structural damage to the bowel. Functional GI disorders are caused by problems with how the brain and gut work together (brain-gut interaction). Thus, a faulty brain-gut interaction in some people with IBS may cause the food to move too slowly or too quickly through the gut. This causes changes in bowel movements. IBS refers to a group of symptoms occurring together, including repeated pain in the abdomen, cramping, bloating, and changes in the bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both. The typical feature of IBS is that these symptoms occur without any visible signs of damage or disease in the gut. IBS can cause a huge amount of discomfort, however, it does not damage the intestines.
IBS is a long term or chronic disorder. The symptoms of IBS may come and go. It is a common condition affecting about twice as many women as men. IBS is most often reported in people younger than 45 years of age. The exact cause of IBS is not known. The condition does not have any specific test for diagnosing it. Tests may be done to exclude other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and certain cancers. Most cases of IBS are effectively managed with diet, stress management, probiotics, and medicine.
What are the different types of IBS?
Based on different patterns of changes in the bowel movements or the presence of abnormal bowel movements, IBS is of three types. Certain diets or medications may work for one type of IBS but not for the other or may make other types worse. People with IBS often have normal bowel movements on some days and abnormal bowel movements on other days.
The three types of IBS are:
IBS with constipation (IBS-C): It is also called constipation-predominant IBS. It presents with the following symptoms on days when the person has at least one abnormal bowel movement:
- more than a quarter of the stools are hard or lumpy
- less than a quarter of the stools are loose or watery
- more than a quarter of the stools are loose or watery and
- less than a quarter of the stools are hard or lumpy
IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M): It is also called alternating type IBS or IBS-A. In this type of IBS, on days when there is at least one abnormal bowel movement:
- more than a quarter of the stools are hard or lumpy and
- more than a quarter of the stools are loose or watery