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This condition is considered a functional GI disorder since the gastrointestinal tract does not function correctly and leads to uncomfortable symptoms, yet there is no visual damage to the tract.
IBS varies in severity. For some individuals, the condition can be so painful that it interferes with daily activities at home or work. For others, IBS causes mild discomfort or excess gas after eating. Irritable bowel syndrome is not contagious and doesn't increase the chances of more serious diseases. Currently, doctors are unsure what causes IBS.
IBS symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping, pain, and irregular bowel movement patterns that last for at least three months. Changes in bowel movements include bouts of diarrhea followed by constipation or vice versa.
The symptoms vary with each IBS patients. Some individuals may experience relief after bowel movements; others may notice changes in the consistency of their stool or have mucus on their stool. Abdominal distention or severe bloating that doesn't go away with refraining from eating or drinking more fluids could also be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome. It is also common for some individuals to feel nauseous or overly full after eating a normal amount of food.
Women are two times more likely to be diagnosed with IBS than men. The disease is also more prominent in people under 45 years of age. Irritable bowel syndrome affects about 15% of the U.S. population.
People who have irritable bowel syndrome should not consume alcohol since this could exacerbate their symptoms. Many medical professionals also assert that IBS sufferers should avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and energy drinks since caffeine can cause bloating and stomach discomfort. Dairy products can also cause digestive issues in people with IBS so avoiding foods like ice cream, cheese, and milk can reduce symptoms.
Consuming a diet that is high in soluble fiber and low in sugar can keep IBS symptoms at bay. Foods that are easy to digest like berries, leafy greens and lean proteins like fish or chicken may be ideal for an IBS diet since they provide nutrients without aggravating the gastrointestinal tract.
IBS is a GI order but research has found that up to 90% of people with IBS have mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or panic disorder. Medical professionals are not clear about the connection between IBS and mental health as of yet, but it is believed that stress plays a major role.
Some IBS sufferers avoid social gatherings due to fear that their symptoms will flare up. Others are anxious or depressed because they haven't a way to control their IBS. Research also asserts that IBS can become more intense when the body and mind are experiencing stress or conflict which could cause those who suffer from the condition to become withdrawn.
Treating IBS is often a matter of working with a doctor to come up with a diet plan and prescription schedule. It may also be helpful to receive a referral to a therapist to receive counseling services and medications that can relieve mental health symptoms associated with IBS.
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