Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a common condition that occurs when the intestines go into a spasm. It is known to affect 1 in 5 people worldwide. This ailment is not fatal but can affect one’s quality of life. Symptoms of IBS are non-specific and can also be found in many other intestinal disorders.
It is therefore a diagnosis of exclusion, ie. until the more life-threatening conditions like cancer or inflammatory bowel disease are excluded, one should not be diagnosed as simply having IBS.
Common symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal cramps usually in the lower tummy or on the left side. The pain can be sharp, stabbing or gripping. The pain eases after a bowel movement or after passing gas.
- An urgent feeling to open the bowels
- Irregular bowel habit which quickly changes from constipation to diarrhea. Stool frequency also increases, although patients may not become dehydrated, as is the case with diarrhoea in gastroenteritis.
- There are also deviations in the motions. The stool changes from small to hard pellets to lose.
- Abdominal bloating
- Excessive flatus
There are also some other less common symptoms such as:
- Headaches accompanied by flushing, sweating and fainting
- Pain when passing stool
It is treated with dietary modifications (by eliminating triggers), medications aimed at reducing symptoms (eg. cramps and bloating), as well as starting a regular exercise regimen to reduce stress.