What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome, commonly known as IBS (as we will refer to it for the sake of easy reading in this article) but also occasionally referred to as irritable colon, spastic colitis, spastic colon and mucous colitis, is something many people experience. A syndrome is known as a collection of conditions or symptoms that occur simultaneously. In this case, the syndrome is a gut disorder forming a chronic condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract, mostly the large colon (intestine).
It is estimated that approximately 11% of the global population suffers from IBS, with prevalence noted in developed, westernised countries.
The majority of the global IBS demographic are women. Typically, between the ages of 16 and 40, IBS sufferers also tend to have a family history of IBS.
IBS is a very uncomfortable and painful condition, and although it is not life-threatening, it can take a major toll on your life, often forcing you to change your habits due to unpredictable bowel movements and discomfort. Pain occurs predominantly in the abdominal region (large intestine), this leads to a change in your bowel movements, with either diarrhoea or constipation being major symptoms. Your stool may also change in size and colour.
As common as the condition is, doctors are still unsure as to what the exact cause of what irritable bowel syndrome is. But it is important to note that this condition is not in any way related to inflammatory bowel disease or any other bowel conditions. It also is not able to increase your risk of gastrointestinal cancers. This is not to say it does not have an impact on your life. If the bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation aren’t enough to send you to your doctor, then the abdominal pain certainly may be, still, it is estimated that less than half of IBS sufferers seek medical diagnosis and attention.
In some cases, a change of diet and lifestyle are able to treat IBS, but it is advised that should you feel as though you may have the condition, you seek medical attention to help prevent the syndrome or combat it.
People experience the condition differently, and while symptoms are often the same or similar, the extent of pain experienced may vary. IBS is something that needs to be managed as it is often a long-term health issue. It does not, however, cause any problems or issues in the bowel tissue, unlike Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
The information in the navigation menu above explores all you need to know about IBS, its symptoms, risks, complications and more. Please note that this information is not intended to serve as a medical or professional opinion, but rather a guideline. Should you seek professional advice, we advise that you speak to your doctor.