IBS or irritable bowel syndrome as it is known is a condition which affects the excretory system. Specifically speaking IBS affects the intestines. IBS symptoms tend to occur following a meal, during times of stress, or at some point in menstruation
There is no known direct cause for IBS. The illness may be due to any of a number of factors. These include problems with the immune system, stress or a flaw in the manner in which the muscles transport food through the stomach and bowel.
Impact of IBS
IBS does not have a significant impact on a person’s health and it is incapable of inflicting serious damage on the digestive system. However it can disrupt or severely hamper an individual’s quality of life.
Rome III Criteria
IBS symptoms have been outlined in a category known as the Rome III criteria. This is what helps to distinguish IBS from other intestinal problems. It should be noted however that individuals who do not experience all of these symptoms may still have IBS.
The Rome III criteria for IBS stipulate that symptoms should persist for at least six months in order for an individual to be diagnosed with IBS. In addition to the period of six months patients should have experienced the pain or discomfort for at least three days per month for the last three months and display at least two of the following symptoms:
- A bowel movement relieves the pain.
- The pain is accompanied by a change in the frequency of bowel movements.
- The pain is accompanied by a change in the look or texture of your stool.
Bowel Movement Patterns in IBS
Individuals who have IBS may notice that one symptom is a change in bowel movements. This pattern may be different as time passes. Two or more of the following symptoms may occur:
- The frequency of Bowel movements may increase or decrease in such a manner that it is no longer normal. The increase tends to be accompanied by diarrhea while the decrease tends to occur with constipation. The changes in bowel movements may be described in the following ways:
- The bowel movements start to vary in size or consistency (may be tough and shaped like pellets, pencil-thin, or loose and runny).
- The manner in which excretion occurs may change. The individual may strain, feel an urgent need to have a bowel movement, or feel that the stool passing process is incomplete.
- Persons with IBS may experience bloating or a sensation of gas in the intestines.
Other intestinal symptoms of IBS
- Some people experience bouts of lower abdominal pain accompanied by constipation which may be followed by diarrhea. Others don’t get diarrhea but instead face pain and mild constipation.
- Intestinal gas and passing mucus in stool also number among the many IBS symptoms.
Non- Gastrointestinal Symptoms of IBS
Sometimes persons who have IBS will experience symptoms that are not directly related to the intestines. Such symptoms include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Insomnia or sleeping problems that are not triggered by the other symptoms of IBS