Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic disorder characterized by erratic functioning of the muscles and nerves of the bowel. This causes abdominal pain, often leading to a bowel movement, thereby relieving the pain ... until the next incident. The syndrome is often described as a dysfunctional connection between the central nervous system and digestive functions, leading to an overly sensitive bowel.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, affects women and men of every age bracket. More women report having this disorder than men, though it is not known why. IBS is not life threatening, nor can it lead to more serious diseases such as cancer. However, chronic bowel disruptions are certainly detrimental to one's quality of life. Continual abdominal pain and the sudden urge to evacuate are constant and unwelcome disruptions, negatively impacting daily life and work routines.

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Besides abdominal pain, symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include changes in the frequency of bowel movements and changes in the consistency of bowel movements. In other words, you may have diarrhea on one occasion and constipation the next. The stool may also change in weird ways, from loose and liquid to thick and hard. None of these are characteristics of a normal stool, and are good indicators of a bowel that is overly sensitive to stimuli.

Other symptoms of IBS may be experienced to varying degrees: excess gas; mucus in the stool; feelings of incomplete evacuation or difficulty evacuating; and abdominal bloating. Some people's stomachs stick out and they think they're gaining weight when in fact the problem lies in bowel irritation. Other effects of IBS sometimes include disruptions in sleep patterns and sexual dysfunction.

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