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Irritable bowel syndrome is a certain type of bowel disorderwhich is basically characterized by symptoms such as changes in bowelhabits, flatulence, abdominal discomfort and/or abdominal pain. Most mild cases ofirritable bowel syndrome can be relieved by bowel movements, but in the majority of patientsthe condition is accompanied by constipation or diarrhea. There are numerousdifferent types of harmful factors which can be held responsible for the onset ofirritable bowel syndrome. The most common ones include the natural processof aging, stressful situations and various sorts of infections.

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome includechanges in bowel habits like constipation or diarrhea, abdominal discomfort andabdominal pain. Some other cases may also involve several other less commonsymptoms such as abdominal distention and incomplete evacuation. Irritablebowel syndrome is often associated with certain other medical conditionswhich may or may not include anxiety, depression, backache, headache,fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, genitourinary system problems andgastroesophageal reflux.

Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It is quite a peculiar fact that the exact cause ofirritable bowel syndrome cannot be pinpointed yet. Some scientific theoriesspeculate that the condition may be caused by problems in the interaction between thegastrointestinal tract and the brain. Other possible factors may involveabnormalities in the immune system and imbalance of the gut flora. There arequite a few types of medical conditions which may trigger the onset ofirritable bowel syndrome and the most common ones include chronic functionalabdominal pain, functional chronic constipation, bile acid malabsorption,inflammatory bowel diseases, parasitic infections, certain mild types ofinfections, fructose malabsorption and celiac disease, among others. Certaintypes of protozoal infections can also be linked to the onset of irritablebowel syndrome. Such infections are triggered by relatively recent exposure to pathogenswhich include blastocystis and dientamoeba fragilis. Both of them are singlecell organisms and are blamed for common symptoms such as diarrhea,constipation and abdominal pain.

Epidemiology of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

There are numerous studies which have shown that theprevalence of irritable bowel syndrome varies greatly from country to country.Another interesting fact is that the prevalence in different age groups alsovaries significantly. 43 percent of Brazil’s population has reported thesymptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The same can be said for approximately 6percent of Canada’s population. 10 percent of Japan’s entire population hasalso experienced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, while 46 percent ofMexico’s population has faced exactly the same problem. The percentage ofPakistan’s population affected by irritable bowel syndrome is somewhere around14 percent, while the percentage of people who live in the United Kingdom andwho have got affected by this frustrating medical condition is 8.2. There are 14.1percent citizens of the United States who have experienced the dreadful symptoms ofirritable bowel syndrome. According to certain scientific studies, a largenumber of American citizens who return from some international travels tend to eventually develop irritable bowel syndrome.

Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Just like there is no specific cause of irritable bowelsyndrome, there are no specific tests or other methods of diagnosis of thismedical condition. The process only involves ruling out all the other medicalconditions which can be similar to irritable bowel syndrome. Still, thereare certain guidelines which can be helpful in diagnosing the condition.

Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Because there is no exact cause of irritable bowel syndromeand there are no specific methods for diagnosing it, there are no actual waysof curing it neither. Most treatment methods for those who suffer fromirritable bowel syndrome are only meant to relieve the symptoms of the disease so that thepatient does not have to suffer excessively. Most individuals suffering fromirritable bowel syndrome find certain dietary changes to be very helpful indealing with symptoms. This usually addresses people who tend to sufferfrom lactose intolerance or fructose intolerance. These people need to reducethe intake of dairy products and fruits. Some sources claim that soluble fiberscan be of great help for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

There also certain types of medications which are commonlyused by those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and the most frequentlyused ones include stool softeners, laxatives, antispasmodics, tricyclicantidepressants, serotonin agonists and serotonin antagonists. Lubiprostone isthe most commonly used type of laxative. Antispasmodics can be further dividedinto musculotropics and neurotropics. The most frequently used serotonin agonistis tegaserod, while commonly prescribed serotonin antagonist is calledalosetron. Other types of medications used by people who suffer from irritablebowel syndrome include magnesium aluminum silicates, alverine citrates,rifaximin, domperidone and various opiods. Cognitive behavioral therapy maybe of additional help to a certain extent in some cases and under certain circumstances.

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