Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the dysfunction of the lower part of the intestinal tract, which includes the lower part of the small intestine and the large intestine, i.e. too much contraction and get triggered easily by the things you eat such as spicy food, tea, coffee, or sometimes stress. Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by cramping or stomach discomfort, sometimes accompanied by changes of bowel movement such as constipation or diarrhea. Symptoms tend to come and go in episodes, but may not disappear completely.

There are no known causes of irritable bowel syndrome, but medically it is believed that it has something to do with digestive tract disorder or nervous system associated with digestive tract might get triggered easily by certain types of food (spicy food, tea, coffee, alcohol) or stress.
Irritable bowel syndrome is mainly characterized by cramping that comes and go in episodes and lasts longer than 6 months accompanied by changes of bowel movement habit which can be categorized into:
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation
However, make sure you do not have any harmful symptoms such as passing stool with mucus or blood, weight loss, pale, vomit, size of stool becomes smaller and smaller, feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowel.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome like symptoms, please consult with doctor for diagnosis. The doctor will obtain your information, detailed symptoms, and physical check-up. Sometimes lab tests are needed which might include blood test, stool test, and other tests if necessary.
Since there is no known cause, treatment is only symptomatic, for example, administration of laxatives, medicines that relieve intestinal contraction, or medicines to treat diarrhea, etc. Please note that symptomatic treatment does not affect the cause of disease, so you might experience those symptoms again once in a while.

Apart from medicines, another significant part of the treatment is daily life behavior changing to control the symptoms. This includes:
  • Adjust eating habit, i.e. eat on time, avoid high fat food, eat fiber-rich food, avoid too much eating, etc.
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid being too stressed out or anxious
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take enough rest
  • Go to the toilet as soon as you have the urgency

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