What is irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is a functional disorder of the digestive system; that is, it is an abnormality in the way the gut normally functions, but does not have a known specific structural or biochemical alteration. It is sometimes referred to as spastic colon, mucous colitis, nervous stomach, or irritable colon. Approximately 10-15% of Americans suffer with this disorder and it the most common diagnosis made by Gastroenterologist. Patients experience a variety of symptoms, particularly abdominal discomfort and a modification of bowel habits. Some people experience constipation, other experience diarrhea, still others experience alternating constipation and diarrhea. Other symptoms include abdominal pain or cramping, a bloated feeling, gas (flatulence), and mucus in the stool.
The critical element in living with IBS is to realize there will be alternating periods of increased and decreased symptoms. There is no known cure for the condition. Patients must try to manage the symptoms and will have some days that are better than others. On days when patients are under more stress, they may have more trouble with their IBS.
Keeping a diary of symptoms, daily diet, and your stress level will provide a pattern for recognizing the types of foods and stressful events that affect you.