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|Most Common Symptoms of IBS
The most common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic recurring abdominal pain which originates in the colon. In fact over 50 percent of people with chronic colon pain suffer from IBS. Other signs include a bloated stomach, excess gas, and alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. If only some of these symptoms occur some doctors prefer to diagnose a condition called functional bowel syndrome, although many doctors use this term interchangeably with IBS.
Symptoms of IBS range from being mildly awkward to very painful and disabling. Although they usually appear in clusters, some may appear sequentially (one after the other, for example, pain followed by diarrhea). Symptoms can also vary in severity and location over time. As IBS is mainly considered a disorder of the lower gastrointestinal tract, symptoms tend to occur below the belly button.
How often IBS occurs varies from person to person. Some people have daily episodes or continuously experience symptoms while others experience symptom-free days, weeks and even months. As patterns can vary, the question was often asked: what is considered an IBS attack and what is considered an occasional bowel complaint resulting form a normal bowel irritant (such as stress or a virus)? In response, frequency guidelines to help diagnose IBS were developed by health experts who met in Rome in 1988. The results are known as the Rome criteria (which have been updated more recently).
The Rome Criteria of Symptoms
For IBS to be reported, abdominal pain, discomfort or cramps which last at least 12 weeks within a period of one year must be present. Those weeks do not have to be consecutive. Pain should be:
1. Relieved by defecation (passing a stool).
On at least one in four days of an 'attack', 2 or more of the following should be present:
• Stool frequency altered (occurring more often/diarrhea, or less often/constipation).
In addition, other non-colon related symptoms may occur in people with IBS. These include:
• Need to urinate more frequently.
Note: If you think you may have symptoms, before obtaining an IBS diagnosis, it is worth keeping an IBS food diary for a few weeks, so that you can provide your doctor with accurate information to help with his diagnosis. If you are looking for some tasty food options, check out our IBS recipes.
As the symptoms of IBS can be so varied, many patients worry that their doctor has misdiagnosed them and missed a more serious disease. The following are a list of symptoms which are not common to IBS and do require further investigation:
• Blood in the stool.
People with the following conditions tend to be more prone to IBS:
• Fibromyalgia and other musculoskeletal symptoms.
IBS Causes:Studies show that people's response to pain is more influenced by psychosocial factors than physiologic factors. Psychosocial factors refer to a person's way of psychologically dealing with social interaction (e.g. how they cope, do they tend to get depressed easily etc). Physiologic factors refer to physical issues such as rectal or colon sensitivity. Research shows that patients who were more influenced by psychosocial factors (such those with a history of depression or physical abuse) were also more likely to experience IBS symptoms more frequently and severely.
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For more information on digestive issues, see the following:
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