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Laparoscopic colorectal and general surgeon
Miss sharmila Guptha MBBS MD FRCS - Colorectal Laproscopic Surgery

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Irritable bowel syndrome

The term bowel is used synonym for large intestine, which is the end part of the digestive tract. As we know that bowel play an important role in the digestion system, as they are involved in the absorption of water from the digested food to form solid waste product before defecation.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition related to large intestine in which there is abdominal pain and cramping, may be due to changes in bowl movement as the structure of the bowels remain normal.
The term IBS should not be confused with IBD, which is inflammatory bowel disease related to crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.


The symptoms of this disease may vary from patient to patient, ranging from mild to severe condition. The major symptoms related to this disease are abdominal pain, fullness, gas, and bloating, which may occur at least 3 days a month from the last 3 months. In few cases, loss of appetite is also seen.

It has been experienced that pain and other symptoms seems to be reduced after a bowel movement and also the occurrence of these symptoms depend upon how many times you have bowel movement.

It has been observed that constipation and diarrhea are the other main symptoms, and the people suffering from IBS are seen to be fluctuating between these two conditions. Firstly, people suffering from diarrhea condition will have frequent, loose, and watery stools. One may feel hard to control this situation, as there may be urgent and frequent need for having bowel movement. Secondly, people suffering from constipation may feel cramps and strain in passing stools, with having only fewer bowel movements. In some cases, it may happen that one may not be able to pass any stool or a small amount of it.

It has been noted that in some people worsening of the symptom are seen for few weeks or a month and after that decrease is seen, while in many other people these symptoms remains for long time.


The cause behind the development of this disease is not clear yet, but it has been noted that it usually occur after any infection of the intestine. The later condition is known as post infectious IBS.

As we know that, movement of the bowel are being controlled by the signals generated in the brain which can affect their functioning. It has been seen that in the stress condition, nerves in the brain may become more active, resulting in excessive stimulation of the bowels. This finally results in hypersensitivity and contractibility of the bowels.

It has been experienced that IBS can be developed in any age group, but is often seen in early twenties. In women the probability of developing this disease is double as compared to men.


It has been seen that the diagnosis of this disease is purely based on the symptoms present in an individual with few or no tests required. The method used by the doctors for checking lactose deficiency is just by giving the person lactose-free diet for 2 weeks.

As it has been mentioned above that there are no tests to diagnose this disease, but few tests are being done just to evaluate the other related problems with this disease like:

  • Celiac disease or anemic condition can be easily identified by carrying blood tests.
  • Infections can also be identified by examining stool cultures

In some cases, colonoscopy is needed to be done in the patient, by inserting a flexible tube for the examination of the colon through the anus. This test is done only for those patients who are suffering from symptoms like weight loss or bloody stools, low blood count, and those who began to develop symptoms related to this disease just after crossing age of fifties.

It has also been seen that various symptoms are found to be similar in other disease conditions like celiac disease, colon cancer, and crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.


For the treatment of IBS, one has to adopt healthy lifestyle in order to reduce stress and anxiety which will help in relieving bowel symptoms. Healthy lifestyle includes daily exercise, timely sleeping habits, and balanced diet.

People suffering from this disease should keep in mind various facts related to eating habits like one should not take those foods and drinks which are involved in stimulating the activity of intestine such as caffeine, tea, or colas. One should also improve eating habit like not to take large meals at a time and also to take more fiber in the diet for those who are suffering from constipation.

In this treatment, no single medication will be effective for all patients suffering from this disease. Medication will be prescribed on the basis of symptoms present in the each individual like ant cholinergic medications will be given with the objective to control gastrointestinal muscle spasms before taking the food; similarly tricyclic antidepressants will be given at low dose to relieve intestinal pain. In the same way, different classes of medication can be used to treat conditions like constipation, diarrhea, infection and many others.

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