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Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention of IBS

IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder. IBS is not a disease, and being a disorder, is not contagious. It affects roughly 20% of the adult population, with slightly more women than men having the disorder. Yet despite the fact that the symptoms can for some be a considerable source of discomfort, the disorder does not appear to in any way damage any of the digestive system organs.

What Are The Causes of IBS? - The exact cause or causes of IBS are not known. It is believed however that one of the gastrointestinal functions, called motility, is somehow involved. Motility refers to muscular contractions and expansions in the colon which cause fecal matter to be passed through, on the way to the rectum, and a subsequent bowel movement. Anything affecting normal motility, whether it be the muscles of the colon themselves that are affected, or either a lack or excess of the amount of fluid in the colon, can result in constipation, diarrhea, or bloating, three common symptoms of IBS.

The lining of the intestines serves to aid in the passage of food through the intestines, and a disease or disorder in either the nervous system or the immune system can affect the intestinal lining, possibly resulting in IBS. Stress, environmental or food allergies, and diet seem to play roles in triggering IBS. The causes however remain unclear, and there many be many.

What Are The Symptoms Of IBS? - The more common symptoms of IBS are the aforementioned constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. General abdominal pain is another fairly common symptom, the source of which may be difficult to pinpoint. At times there may be a whitish mucus in the stools, and at other times cramping may occur while one is attempting a bowel movement. These symptoms can be mild to the point they are barely an irritant, to severe enough to disrupt one’s lifestyle. If there is a positive note, it’s despite the pain and discomfort that may be felt, IBS does not cause damage to any internal organs.

Can IBS Be Treated? – Although IBS cannot be cured, it is generally treatable. There are medications available, but are primarily designed to manage and relieve symptoms and are not curative. Since the cause is not known, treatment is directed towards attempting to find what triggers IBS symptoms and what lifestyle choices can be made which may serve to prevent such outbreaks. Treatment very often consists of finding the right combination of diet and exercise, and avoiding known or suspected triggers.

Can IBS Be Prevented? - Since the cause of this disorder is unknown, how to prevent it is also an unknown. Being a disorder and not a disease, it is not contagious or communicable, so you can’t “catch it” from anyone, nor is there any evidence to show that it can be inherited. IBS is sometimes present when one or another disease is present, yet there is no evidence that supports IBS being directly linked to any particular disease. Lifestyle may play a role, as may stress, but there are no hard facts to support either hypothesis. IBS appears to be a disorder one either has or does not have. No one in the medical field would likely subscribe to a theory that whether or not someone develops IBS is simply a matter of the role of the dice, but at the moment there’s no theory out there that gives a better explanation.

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