Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or colon irritabile, is a disease of digestive system that typically appears in adolescence or early adulthood. It is not a life threatening disease. Colon is a name for part of the large intestine, we distinguish colon ascending, transverse and descending. Women are twice as likely to be affected by irritable bowel syndrome as men. In Europe, 10% of the population are affected by this disease. The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not precisely known; psychical condition is believed to play a significant role in the onset of this disease, however.
Onset of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome affects large intestine, its cause is not known. Large scale of triggers was described; psychical condition is believed to play a significant role. The structure of large intestine is not disrupted in this disease, only its function is affected. The onset of irritable bowel syndrome may be caused by impaired bowel movements, infection, nutrition or psychosocial aspects.
Symptoms and Classification of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are diarrhea or constipation, presence of mucus in stool, bloating, abdominal distension, borborygmus, unsatisfactory defecation, poor digestion, nausea and abdominal pain, but also fatigue and weariness. The troubles come mostly in the morning; several types of irritable bowel syndrome are described. It can be present in form of morning defecation or diarrhea when very loose stool is present shortly after waking up or directly before breakfast. Other type is so-called postprandial defecation; the defecation in this type appears shortly after meal and is accompanied by abdominal cramps. Relive is usually felt after defecation. The third, very unpleasant type, is defecation in series; in this type the whole large intestine is evacuated.
Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
As said above, the onset of irritable bowel syndrome is triggered by several factors. Clinical trials show that irritable bowel syndrome affects more likely people living under stress and depressed people, both these conditions are therefore considered main risk factors. Human body reaction to stress can be exaggerated which can lower bowel movements and therefore cause the irritable bowel syndrome. Other causes may be food allergies or low intake of fibre in diet.
Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is not easy because all its symptoms are non-specific and can be present in various other diseases of digestive system. It is set that typical duration of abdominal problems in irritable bowel syndrome is for 12 weeks or more. It is necessary to perform laboratory tests (blood count, urine and stool test for bacteria or parasites) and gynaecological examination in women; abdominal ultrasound is advisable. If diarrhea or constipation is present, endoscopic examination is recommended (examination of the large intestine by a small camera attached to a tube inserted through anus).
Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Therapy for irritable bowel syndrome is not simple. It is necessary to exclude all other, more serious or even life-threatening diseases. Main treatment is healthy life regimen and sober diet. It is recommended to increase the frequency of smaller meals, increase fibre intake and exclude food that can irritate the bowel. If possible, the patient should also avoid stress situations. If diarrhoea is present, charcoal may be used. On the other hand, in constipation laxatives are not suitable; fibre intake should be increased instead (to the dose of 25 grams per day).