10 Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a condition that concerns the large intestine. It can cause diarrhea, constipation or both. Its symptoms are very painful and for the people who suffer from IBS, it can be disruptive to their lives. Many people find themselves scheduling their days around their IBS symptoms. Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects up to 20% of American adults at some point in their lives.

Although doctors do not fully understand Irritable Bowel Syndrome and its causes, they do agree that it is a legitimate medical condition. They know that there is nothing anatomically or structurally wrong with the intestines. Researchers have not found a physical or chemical cause of IBS, but they have determined that it is not a form of cancer and it will not cause cancer or other gastrointestinal disorders.

Doctors use several factors to diagnose someone with IBS. The symptoms must have been occurring for at least six months. The IBS pain must be alleviated when the sufferer defecates or associated with an alteration in the appearance or frequency of stool. If you think you may be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you may want to keep a record of your symptoms for your doctor to analyze. Read on for some of the most common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome to help you determine if it is time to see a doctor.

1. Abdominal Pain

One of the most common signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is abdominal pain. This pain is usually found in the lower region of the stomach. The pain may range from mild discomfort to severe abdominal cramping. For some, the pain can be debilitating and may have a great effect on their life and mood. A contraction of the intestines causes the pain. For most IBS sufferers, a colonoscopy reveals that there are no anatomical issues with the intestines. The pain will often get worse right after eating, especially if you have eaten a meal that is a trigger for your IBS. The pain may be relieved after defecation. You may be tempted to take a pain reliever like acetaminophen to help alleviate the pain, but that is not advised. Pain relievers may provide temporary help, but can often cause irritation to the stomach. There are better ways to manage IBS pain. If you are experiencing severe or recurring abdominal pain, it is important to see a doctor. You may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or it could be the cause of another condition.

2. Bloating

Another common sign of IBS is bloating, which causes your stomach to feel swollen and tight, as if it is full of air. The sensation can be very uncomfortable and even painful. Bloating is also associated with gas. You may feel full even if you have not eaten much. It may even make you feel embarrassed, as the bloating may be noticeable if your stomach is distended.

Sometimes it can be managed by changes in diet. If your bloating is sudden and extremely noticeable or accompanied with severe pain, it is important to see a doctor. It may be caused by irritable bowel syndrome, but it could also be a symptom of another issue.

3. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is one of the most common, and one of the most worrying, signs of IBS. It is identified as loose and watery bowel movements. It is not always a symptom of IBS, but when it is, the syndrome is known as IBS-D. With IBS-D, the bowel movement may not always be loose, but it may occur more frequently.

Your body is reacting to the food you eat and moving it through your system too quickly. This can lead to other issues, such as dehydration, and can become a serious problem. If you are experiencing diarrhea that lasts more than the length of a typical stomach virus, it is imperative that you see a doctor immediately.

4. Constipation

On the flip side, Irritable Bowel Syndrome can also make you experience constipation. This is defined by bowel movements that are hard to pass or infrequent bowel movements. It can be very uncomfortable and painful, especially if you are suffering from it often. IBS that is marked by constipation is known as IBS-C.

Usually people with IBS will suffer from either diarrhea or constipation, but some people suffer from both in alternation. There are treatments such as changes in diet, laxatives and supplement, but if you are suffering from it frequently, you need to see your doctor.

5. Depression

While depression alone is not a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, when coupled with some of the other symptoms listed here, it can be. Doctors are not sure if depression is caused by IBS or if it can cause IBS. Some researchers think that people suffering from IBS have a disorder of the brain that causes their body to react to changes in the intestine and makes them more susceptible to pain and other issues.

It is also natural that someone suffering from IBS would experience depression, as it can cause major changes in your life. Constant or recurring pain that does not have a simple and fast remedy may lead someone to feel hopeless and down about the quality of their life. See your doctor if you are feeling depressed.

6. Anxiety

Another common symptom of IBS is anxiety. It is identified as a feeling of stress, nervousness or worrying. It can be a common issue with IBS, as the sufferer may worry how the IBS will affect his or her life. He or she may feel anxious about when an attack will occur, gas in public, or having to run to the bathroom during a social outing.

IBS is often a self-fueling issue. It can be triggered by anxiety and in turn, the sufferer may feel increasingly anxious about having an issue with IBS. If you are having issues with controlling anxiety, it is time to seek medical help.

7. Loss of Appetite

Another characteristic of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a loss of appetite. In some cases, IBS itself can cause a loss of appetite. Certain issues like gas and bowel problem can make you lose your desire to eat. In other cases, you may have a loss of appetite as you are trying to avoid some of the other symptoms of IBS.

Food may not be palatable to you, as you may only be thinking of how it is going to affect you later. If you have certain foods that trigger your IBS, you may be reluctant to eat those foods and choose not to eat at all.

8. Indigestion

Indigestion is defined as discomfort or pain in the upper part of the abdomen. In some cases, it is mild, but in other cases it can be severe enough that someone may mistake it for a heart attack. IBS can cause you not to digest your food correctly, which can lead to many other issues, including indigestion. If you are experience this symptom a few times a week and it is brought on by several different foods, then it is time to see a doctor. It could be a sign of IBS or another underlying gastrointestinal issue.

9. Nausea

Nausea is characterized by the feeling of needing to throw up. While it is not a common symptom of IBS, some people who suffer from IBS do experience frequent nausea. This could be a result of improperly digesting food. In some cases, sufferers also vomit as well. Feeling sick to your stomach and vomiting can lead to many other issues, including a lack of desire to eat and dehydration. Nausea can also greatly decrease your quality of life, because in severe cases it can be debilitating. If you have frequent nausea, you need to see your physician.

10. Change in Bowel Habits

With IBS, you may experience a change in your bowel habits. Most people go daily, every other day or every few days in a predictable pattern. But if you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you may go frequently, infrequently, or a combination of the two.

This can be frustrating and can lead to other issues as well. If you notice major changes in your bowel habits coupled with some of the other symptoms listed, you may have IBS. You need to see a doctor for a diagnosis.