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Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome: Introduction

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition that affects the lower gastrointestinal tract (the intestines) and results in uncomfortable and inconvenient symptoms, such as gas, emotional distress, and abnormal bowel movements.

Irritable bowel syndrome occurs due to uncoordinated muscular contractions of the muscles that move food through the gastrointestinal tract. It is not known what causes this to happen, but it may be the result of a dysfunction of the nerves and muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. Irritable bowel syndrome may occur in some cases after an intestinal infection.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a different condition than inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Inflammatory bowel disease causes ongoing or repeating bouts of inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which can lead to serious complications, such as an increase risk of colon cancer, intestinal obstruction, and fistula.

Irritable bowel syndrome is less serious than inflammatory bowel disease. However, in severe cases, irritable bowel syndrome can result in dehydration if the symptom of diarrhea is frequent or severe.

Other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can include abdominal pain, abdominal distension, gas and diarrhea that alternates with bouts of constipation. Other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include loss of appetite. Symptoms can be aggravated by certain mood disorders. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable bowel syndrome can occur in both sexes and in any age group. Irritable bowel syndrome most often begins in people in their teens through young adulthood and is more common in women than men.

Making a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is often done by a specialist called a gastroenterologist. The process begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination.

Diagnosis may also include doing tests that check for bacteria, viruses and parasites in the stool, which can cause symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome.

Other tests are also generally done to rule-out more serious gastrointestinal conditions, such as Inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. This includes a complete blood count (CBC), which can show if an inflammatory process is occurring.

Testing may also include CT scan and a variety of tests using video imaging technology. This includes endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy. These tests involve passing a small flexible tube fitted with a camera into the gastrointestinal tract to look for areas of inflammation and other signs of disease. During this procedure, samples of inflamed tissue may be taken to be examined under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis. A barium X-ray may also be done. This test can illuminate certain abnormalities in the GI tract.

A diagnosis of the irritable bowel syndrome may be missed or delayed because symptoms can mimic the symptoms of other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a treatable disorder and can often be controlled to effectively reduce or eliminate symptoms. Treatment can include identifying and avoiding foods and situations that bring on symptoms. Treatment may also include special diets and medications in some cases. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. ...more »

Irritable bowel syndrome: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the intestines that leads to crampy pain, gassiness, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. Some ... more about Irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable bowel syndrome: Spasms in the colon wall. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Irritable bowel syndrome is available below.

Irritable bowel syndrome: Symptoms

The severity and types of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person and can run the gamut from very mild to severe. For some people, the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can seriously affect a person's ability to participate in normal activities of daily living. Typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include abdominal pain, abdominal distension, ...more symptoms »

Irritable bowel syndrome: Treatments

Treatment can help to control or eliminate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The overall treatment goal for people living with irritable bowel syndrome is to control symptoms to a degree that allows them to feel better and live the most normal, healthy and active lives possible.

The most effect treatment plans include a multifaceted approach. One facet of treatment is dietary ...more treatments »

Irritable bowel syndrome: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome may missed or delayed because its symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms of such conditions as gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, food poisoning, appendicitis, pancreatitis, or diverticulosis. Only a thorough evaluation by a qualified health care professional can determine ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome

Treatments for Irritable bowel syndrome

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Irritable bowel syndrome:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome: Related Patient Stories

Irritable bowel syndrome: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Irritable bowel syndrome.

Alternative Treatments for Irritable bowel syndrome

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Irritable bowel syndrome may include:

Curable Types of Irritable bowel syndrome

Possibly curable types of Irritable bowel syndrome include:

Rare Types of Irritable bowel syndrome:

Rare types of Irritable bowel syndrome include:

Diagnostic Tests for Irritable bowel syndrome

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Irritable bowel syndrome: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Irritable bowel syndrome:

Causes of Irritable bowel syndrome

More information about causes of Irritable bowel syndrome:

Disease Topics Related To Irritable bowel syndrome

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Irritable bowel syndrome:

Irritable bowel syndrome: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Irritable bowel syndrome

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The digestive system contains more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" bacteria in more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better more »

Irritable bowel syndrome: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Irritable bowel syndrome

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Irritable bowel syndrome:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Irritable bowel syndrome, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Irritable bowel syndrome: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Irritable bowel syndrome

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Irritable bowel syndrome

Medical research articles related to Irritable bowel syndrome include:

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Irritable bowel syndrome: Animations

Prognosis for Irritable bowel syndrome

Prognosis for Irritable bowel syndrome: Mostly good. Not usually serious or life-shortening although attacks are problematic and often recur.

Research about Irritable bowel syndrome

Visit our research pages for current research about Irritable bowel syndrome treatments.

Clinical Trials for Irritable bowel syndrome

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Irritable bowel syndrome include:

Statistics for Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome: Broader Related Topics

Irritable bowel syndrome Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Irritable bowel syndrome, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: NIDDK (Excerpt)

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 (difficult or infrequent bowel movements); others have diarrhea (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.

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 another disorder, ulcerative colitis. (Source: excerpt from Irritable Bowel Syndrome: NIDDK)

IBS: NIDDK (Excerpt)

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a problem that affects mainly the bowel, which is also called the large intestine. The bowel is the part of the digestive system that makes and stores stool. The word syndrome means a group of symptoms. IBS is a syndrome because it can cause several symptoms. For example, IBS causes cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. (Source: excerpt from IBS: NIDDK)

Definitions of Irritable bowel syndrome:

A disorder with chronic or recurrent colonic symptoms without a clearcut etiology. This condition is characterized by chronic or recurrent ABDOMINAL PAIN, bloating, MUCUS in FECES, and an erratic disturbance of DEFECATION. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Recurrent abdominal pain and diarrhea (often alternating with periods of constipation); often associated with emotional stress - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Irritable bowel syndrome is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Irritable bowel syndrome, or a subtype of Irritable bowel syndrome, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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