Irritable bowel syndrome is a certain type of bowel disorder which is basically characterized by symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, flatulence, abdominal discomfort and/or abdominal pain. Most mild cases of irritable bowel syndrome can be relieved by bowel movements, but in the majority of patients the condition is accompanied by constipation or diarrhea. There are numerous different types of harmful factors which can be held responsible for the onset of irritable bowel syndrome. The most common ones include the natural process of aging, stressful situations and various sorts of infections.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include changes in bowel habits like constipation or diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and abdominal pain. Some other cases may also involve several other less common symptoms such as abdominal distention and incomplete evacuation. Irritable bowel syndrome is often associated with certain other medical conditions which may or may not include anxiety, depression, backache, headache, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, genitourinary system problems and gastroesophageal reflux.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
It is quite a peculiar fact that the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome cannot be pinpointed yet. Some scientific theories speculate that the condition may be caused by problems in the interaction between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. Other possible factors may involve abnormalities in the immune system and imbalance of the gut flora. There are quite a few types of medical conditions which may trigger the onset of irritable bowel syndrome and the most common ones include chronic functional abdominal pain, functional chronic constipation, bile acid malabsorption, inflammatory bowel diseases, parasitic infections, certain mild types of infections, fructose malabsorption and celiac disease, among others. Certain types of protozoal infections can also be linked to the onset of irritable bowel syndrome. Such infections are triggered by relatively recent exposure to pathogens which include blastocystis and dientamoeba fragilis. Both of them are single cell 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 the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome varies greatly from country to country. Another interesting fact is that the prevalence in different age groups also varies significantly. 43 percent of Brazil’s population has reported the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The same can be said for approximately 6 percent of Canada’s population. 10 percent of Japan’s entire population has also experienced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, while 46 percent of Mexico’s population has faced exactly the same problem. The percentage of Pakistan’s population affected by irritable bowel syndrome is somewhere around 14 percent, while the percentage of people who live in the United Kingdom and who have got affected by this frustrating medical condition is 8.2. There are 14.1 percent citizens of the United States who have experienced the dreadful symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. According to certain scientific studies, a large number 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 bowel syndrome, there are no specific tests or other methods of diagnosis of this medical condition. The process only involves ruling out all the other medical conditions which can be similar to irritable bowel syndrome. Still, there are certain guidelines which can be helpful in diagnosing the condition.
Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Because there is no exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome and there are no specific methods for diagnosing it, there are no actual ways of curing it neither. Most treatment methods for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome are only meant to relieve the symptoms of the disease so that the patient does not have to suffer excessively. Most individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome find certain dietary changes to be very helpful in dealing with symptoms. This usually addresses people who tend to suffer from lactose intolerance or fructose intolerance. These people need to reduce the intake of dairy products and fruits. Some sources claim that soluble fibers can be of great help for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
There also certain types of medications which are commonly used by those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and the most frequently used ones include stool softeners, laxatives, antispasmodics, tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin agonists and serotonin antagonists. Lubiprostone is the most commonly used type of laxative. Antispasmodics can be further divided into musculotropics and neurotropics. The most frequently used serotonin agonist is tegaserod, while commonly prescribed serotonin antagonist is called alosetron. Other types of medications used by people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome include magnesium aluminum silicates, alverine citrates, rifaximin, domperidone and various opiods. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be of additional help to a certain extent in some cases and under certain circumstances.