Do you have frequent abdominal cramping? Do you feel bloated often and pass a lot of gas? Do you suffer from constipation and have regular diarrhea? Time to stop pretending that there isn’t a problem. Most likely, you’re suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS) is a gastro-intestinal disorder caused by changes in how the tract works. It is not a disease, instead it is more like a group of symptoms (the ones listed above). You are said to be suffering from IBS if you have a combination of said symptoms at least thrice a month for a duration of three months, and if you haven’t had a previous injury that can explain the pain.
Other symptoms of IBS also include mucus in the stool. The severity of the symptoms depends on each individual.
So, when should you visit a doctor? If you see a consistent change in your bowel movements, see one immediately. Because you may have a mild-to-severe case of IBS, or it may be symptomatic of a more serious condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease, a bowel infection or even colon cancer, so you cannot afford to ignore it.
Causes of IBS also vary in individuals – what triggers one person may not necessarily affect another. Food, such as dairy products, chocolate or spicy food, triggers an IBS flare up in some. In others, stress and hormones (especially in women) are instigating factors.
According to Mayo Clinic, IBS symptoms first appear before the age of 35 for about half of those with the disorder, meaning you are more likely to get IBS if you are younger. More women than men are diagnosed with IBS, and studies have shown that people who have a first-degree relative — such as a parent or sibling — with IBS are at increased risk of the condition.
IBS can be an embarrassing condition, especially for those who have flatulence as one of their symptoms. It also causes a lot of physical discomfort, hindering you from enjoying your day-to-day life. Do not suffer unnecessarily. Treatment can be as easy as a change of diet.
If you exhibit any of the symptoms, visit a doctor for a check-up to ensure that it’s nothing major, and also to make your life more comfortable.