Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that an estimated 10-15% of people worldwide face. People who suffer from IBS may experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Because it is such a complex syndrome, and symptoms vary from patient to patient, doctors categorize the IBS that a patient experiences as either IBS-M, where a patient experiences both diarrhea and constipation, IBS-D, where mostly diarrhea is experienced and IBS-C, where a patient experiences mostly constipation.

What Is IBS-C?

IBS-C is fairly common in the United States of America, where 20% of adults suffer from symptoms of the disease. These symptoms include lumpy or hard stool, infrequent defecation, bloating and gas. This may cause the sufferer to experience strain during a bowel movement. After a bowel movement, affected individuals often have the feeling that their bowels are not empty and this can cause serious discomfort.

What Are The Causes?

The causes of IBS-C are unknown, but research has found that a number of factors may predispose an individual to IBS. The major risk factor is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract. The antibiotics used to treat this infection may also upset the delicate environment in the gut and contribute to the development of IBS. Other risk factors include being between the ages of thirteen and forty-five, genetic predisposition and anxiety and depression. However, psychological factors have not been shown to directly cause the syndrome, but they have been reported to aggravate the disease. Women also tend to experience symptoms more frequently than men. In fact, research suggests the number of women who suffer from IBS is double the number of men who suffer from it.

How Is It Diagnosed?

A patient is diagnosed with IBS-C if, firstly no other obvious cause lies behind the symptoms, and if lumpy stools appear at least in 25% of bowel movements, which occur less than three times a week. Loose stools should occur less than 25%. It is very important to see a medical professional, such as a general practitioner to get a proper diagnosis and eliminate the possibility of another serious cause.

What Is The Treatment?

With the help of a number of professionals, it is possible to manage IBS. The first line is often to increase the amount of fiber eaten which is found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Doctors recommend 20 to 35 grams daily. Along with dietary adjustments, the doctor may prescribe laxatives on a short-term basis. It is recommended to consult a doctor, in order to choose the right laxative and not to use laxatives for a prolonged period of time. Psychological and behavioral therapies have also been explored.

So although there are no known cures for IBS, it can be managed with the correct diet and lifestyle. Sufferers of IBS can still live a very enjoyable life. It is important for people with IBS to maintain regular contact with their doctors and to pay attention to what their body is telling them. Knowing about the condition and your body can give you a greater control over it and keep you feeling great.

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