Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the many digestive issues affecting the large intestines. Learn about the signs and symptoms of this disease.
IRS is a condition of the large intestines characterized by cramping, gassing, and bloating. Although the disease may not be deadly, it causes a lot of discomforts and can be chronic, hence has to be managed for a long time. Colorectal is another disease of the digestive tract, but having IRS does not worsen it or increase a person’s risk for the disease. Some people get relief from the disease by reviewing their diet and sleep patterns as well as managing stress, but others have to go through counseling and medication. Find out the major signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IRS) from this article.
Pain and cramping
If your digestive muscles cramp and pain, you may have to be diagnosed as this may be IRS in its initial development. For digestion to take place, the various organs are involved, and so is the brain. However, due to one reason or another, signaling between the brain and the digestive hormone may be uncoordinated, leading to pain along the digestive tract and muscle cramping. The pain will often be felt on the entire abdomen or the lower abdomen, and rarely on the upper abdomen solely. Some people use peppermint oil, hypnotherapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy to ease these conditions. Trying a diet with low FODMAPS has also helped other people. If all these fail for you, you might have to consult a gastroenterologist who will recommend you a drug that will ease your IRS.
There are three types of IRS disorder, and diarrhea-predominant IRS is one of them. This type of IRS causes a series of diarrhea and initiates as many bowel movements as twelve in a week. That’s a lot, as it is more than twice what people without IRS experience. The diarrhea-predominant IRS often makes the victims experience an unprecedented and sudden urge to have a bowel movement, a situation they find quite uncomfortable and even tend to avoid social settings because of this. The stool produced by patients with diarrhea-predominant IRS, is mucoid, watery, and loose.
Though this may sound a bit off, IRS causes constipation. Constipation-predominant IRS is the most common form of IRS, affecting half of all constipation victims. Interruption in brain coordination with the digestive tract can be in the form of slowed or sped up bowel movement. Constipation is a product of slow down bowel movement, which results in reduced bowel transit time. This causes the bowel to take in more water and makes it hard to pass. People with constipation-predominant IRS have less than three bowel movements per week. The condition can be eased by taking more water, including fiber in your diet, exercising, and trying other means of IRS relief.
Shifting diarrhea and constipation
This marks the third type of IRS, the mixed IRS. It is characterized by diarrhea and constipation that keep occurring in an alternating manner. As this happens, a person also feels pain in the lower abdomen. Mixed IRS, when compared to constipation-predominant and diarrhea-predominant IRS, is more severe and leads to intense pain. Different people with mixed IRS are affected differently, meaning a customized treatment strategy is needed for it as opposed to one treatment method that fits all.
Changes in bowel movements
A person suffering from IRS will definitely experience changes in bowel movements. For instance, when bowel movements are sped up, there is barely any time left for intestinal water absorption. This ultimately leads to loose and watery stool and causes diarrhea. On the other hand, if bowel movements slow down, the large intestines take up all the water, resulting in constipation and hardened stool which cause a lot of pain during excretion. Sometimes, the stool is dark or tarry and has traces of blood. It can also be red and show clear blood presence. The mucoid stool is also a problem associated with changes in bowel movement. Laxatives can help with these symptoms.
Gassing and bloating
These symptoms are more common among constipation-predominant and mixed IRS patients, affecting about 83% of such patients. Victims of gassing and bloating describe the situation as the most nagging and uncomfortable. Gassing and bloating are a result of changing patterns of digestion, leading to fermentation and gas production in the gut. One way to ease gassing and bloating is by limiting FODMAPS and lactose in your diet.
Intolerance to particular foods
About two-thirds of IRS victims exclude a particular food from their diet and about 70% of the victims cannot tolerate some foods. Upon taking these foods, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, gassing & bloating, changes in bowel movement, or a mixture of these symptoms are triggered. FODMAPS, gluten, and lactose are some of the foods that people with IRS cannot tolerate. Still, experts have not found a valid reason why this food triggers IRS symptoms. Food intolerance varies from person to person and so self-examination is needed for a person to determine what foods he cannot tolerate.
Exhaustion and sleeping issues
Another symptom of IRS is fatigue and difficulty in sleeping. In fact, more than 150 IRS patients reported that they feel fatigued once they experience these symptoms to the extent that they cannot exert themselves at work or interact well with people at social gatherings. More than 50% of IBS victims also report insomnia, whereby they struggle to sleep, wake up constantly in the middle of sleep, and feel anxious, tired, and restless in the morning. All these translate to worsened bowel conditions the day that follows.
Anxiety, stress, and depression
IRS is linked to anxiety and stress, which ultimately lead to stress. Studies have not succeeded in determining whether the symptoms of IRS predispose people to psycho attack, or whether the disorder directly causes psychological problems. Admittedly, dealing with IRS is just difficult, which is why 70% and 50% of IRS patients are more likely to suffer from mood disorders and stress, respectively. Counseling may help with these conditions.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder of the large intestines. The causes and the triggers are varied and differ from a person to another. This article has shared signs and symptoms of IRS. If you experience any of these persistently, it is time for you to visit a health care provider who will rule out other diseases and prescribe for you the best treatment or management of the disease.