Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that impacts the large intestine. The signs and symptoms, which include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, cramping constipation or diarrhea (or both) will need to be managed long-term. In most cases, these symptoms are not severe enough to greatly impact one’s life, and this disorder can be managed with the proper diet, lifestyle choices and stress management. IBS does not increase the risk of colorectal cancer, nor does it cause changes in bowel tissue.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Irritable bowel syndrome is easy to identify, although the signs will vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include:
- Diarrhea or constipation (at times, in alternating bouts)
- Abdominal pain (which is relieved after a bowel movement)
- Excess gas
- Mucus in the stool
These signs and symptoms are not usually consistent. At times, they may be worse than normal but can also improve quickly or disappear. If you keep experiencing a persistent change in bowel habits or the symptoms above, this may indicate colon cancer or another serious medical condition. The more serious symptoms of IBS include weight loss, rectal bleeding, diarrhea at night, unexplained vomiting, persistent pain in the abdomen, iron deficiency and difficulty swallowing. If you experience any of these symptoms for an extended amount of time, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.
What are the causes?
The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown, but there are multiple factors that contribute to IBS. These factors include:
- Inflammation in the intestines caused by an increased number of immune-system cells in those organs
- Severe infections caused by a virus or surplus bacteria
- Changes in microflora (bacteria that is good for the body) in the gut
- Abnormally strong, weak or long muscle contractions in the intestine
- Abnormalities in the nerves in the digestive system caused by poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines
Hormonal shifts, food and stress are common triggers for IBS. Risk factors include your age (IBS occurs more frequently in people under the age of 50), genetics, your mental health and your gender. IBS is more common among women, since menopause involves dramatic shifts in estrogen.
Schedule an appointment in Fairbanks, Alaska
If you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and you live in or around Fairbanks, schedule an appointment with Dr. Nick Sarrimanolis. Dr. Sarrimanolis and staff can help you manage your symptoms and prevent further health complications from occurring.* Please request an appointment online or give us a call at (907) 451-1174.
*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.