Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Introduction to IBS Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the intestines that leads to crampy pain, gassiness, Bloating, and changes in bowel habits. Some people with IBS have constipation. Others have diarrhea or frequent loose stools, often with an urgent need to move the bowels and some people experience both. Sometimes the person with IBS has a crampy urge to move the bowels but cannot do so. As much as 20% of the US population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common digestive disorders disorders in North America. Over three millions doctor visits are made each year due to IBS. Almost 50% of referrals to a gastroemterologist are for irritable bowel syndrome. Twice as many women suffer from irritable bowel syndrome than do men. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome usually start early in life. Half the patients have symptoms before they reach the age of 30. Through the years, IBS has been called by many names -- colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, spastic bowel, and functional bowel disease. Most of these terms are inaccurate. Colitis, for instance, means inflammation of the large intestine (colon). IBS, however, does not cause inflammation and should not be confused with ulcerative colitis, which is a more serious disorder. The cause of IBS is not known, and as yet there is no cure. Doctors call it a functional disorder because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not cause permanent harm to the intestines and does not lead to intestinal bleeding of the bowel or to a serious disease such as cancer. Often IBS is just a mild annoyance, but for some people it can be disabling. They may be afraid to go to social events, to go out to a job, or to travel even short distances. Most people with IBS, however, are able to control their symptoms through diet, stress management, and sometimes with medications prescribed by their physicians. Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome The colon, which is about 6 feet long, connects the small intestine with the rectum and anus. The major function of the colon is to absorb water and salts from digestive products that enter from the small intestine. Two quarts of liquid matter enter the colon from the small intestine each day.
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