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Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, is common condition in which recurrent abdominal pain with constipation and or diarrhea continue for years without any general deterioration in physical health. There is no detectable underlying structural disease. The symptoms are caused by abnormal muscular contractions in the intestine and heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as stretching or distention of the muscles. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but the condition is often associated with stress or anxiety and may follow a severe infection of the intestine.

Tests may be required in order to rule out disease. Treatment is based on removing anxiety (psychotherapy), dietary adjustment and fecal softening agents and drugs to reduce the spasms or to diminish pain sensitivity.

Various illnesses of the colon can alter the way that the colon functions and change its basic composition. Some of these diseases can result in decreased functionality and changes in the size or shape of the colon. The illnesses of the large intestine that are considered structural disorders include hemorrhoids, fissures, diverticulitis, colon polyps, colitis, and colon cancer.

The exact causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are not completely understood. The linings of the walls of the intestines are made of layers of the muscle, that contract and loosen as they move the food to the rectum in what is 1

called peristalsis. When the bowels are working properly, these muscles operate rhythmically. When you have IBS, the contractions of the small and large intestine are forceful and erratic.

The symptoms vary from one case to the next, but in general, the symptoms range in intensity and duration from mild and infrequent to severe and continuous. The symptoms consist of a change in movement patterns such as constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of both. Pain, bloating and abdominal distention often accompany this change in bowel patterns. The abdominal pain is sometimes precipitated by eating and is frequently relieved through defecation.

The chyme (the semi fluid mass of partly digested food that moves through the intestines) and waste products move through the intestines creating gas and bloating in both the stomach and the intestines. Sometimes the food moves throughout the intestine gradually, and the stool will turn into small, hard, dry lumps that compact and cause severe constipation.

Some scientists believe that IBS may be the result of a change in the nervous system. This nervous system change results in a diminishing or increase in the activity of the gastrointestinal muscles. A person with IBS will experience these changes gradually as the nervous system changes progress.

Current Theories


The current thinking lays the responsibility for IBS with problems in the nervous system and, or changes related to hormones. More women have IBS then men and scientists believe the wide swings in hormone levels among women could be the cause. Countless women report that the signs and symptoms they feel are worse during their menstrual cycle.

For a lot of people, the symptoms of their IBS will turn out to be worse after the consumption of certain foods. Milk and carbonated drinks can aggravate IBS, while certain vegetables can cause mild bloating and gas in individuals with this condition. Some people experience the problems with refined sugar, caffeine, and alternative sugar free substitutes. It is really helpful to start a food diary, so you know how different foods effect your IBS.

There are many natural products available that can aid in cleansing the colon as well as helping your system to burn fat more successfully. Getting rid of the toxins in your system will not only help you to lose weight, it can greatly reduce your bouts with IBS.

The goals of treatment are aimed at relieving abdominal pain, controlling diarrhea or constipation, and reducing stress. Combine that with the elimination of foods that irritate, such as beans, caffeinated products, fried foods, alcohol, and spicy foods, and you will be well on your way to controlling your IBS. A healthy high fiber diet will help control the diarrhea and constipation. Physical exercise will help in reducing anxiety and increasing intestinal motility. Some patients


frequently find it helpful to participate in stress reduction or behavior-modification programs.

Hydrophilic colloids (bulk) and antidiarrheal agents (loperamide) may be given to control the diarrhea and fecal urgency. Antidepressants can assist in treating underlying anxiety and depression. Anticholinergics and calcium channel blockers decrease smooth muscle spasm, decreasing cramping and constipation.

There are many remedies available to you, so it is wise to consult with your physician and get started on a program designed to address your specific symptoms.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome  
Irritable Bowel Syndrome  

Tests may be required in order to rule out disease. Treatment is based on removing anxiety (psychotherapy), dietary adjustment and fecal sof...