The bowel content is moving normally by regular, coordinated waves of muscular contraction. It the so-called irritable bowel syndrome, waves are irregular and uncoordinated, which interrupts and blocks the passage of faecal matter through the intestines. The cause of this discomfort is not entirely clear; as well as poor digestion, it is likely to result from a number of factors. Some doctors believe that the cause is largely psychological, since the condition is most common among people who are under stress.
The main symptom may be diarrhea or constipation – which means that the stool may be either excessively watery overweight or too hard. Sometimes, the constipation i.e. hard stool (in the form of dry, grainy pieces) can be interchanged with diarrhea, which is usually harder in the morning. Pain often occurs during the defecation. However, the most common symptom is a painful cramp, which can be occasionally felt on one side in the lower part of the abdominal cavity, and which usually relieves after the defecation.
If you have an irritable bowel syndrome, you will occasionally feel a slight nausea, a feeling of bloating and a lack of appetite.
In Great Britain, this discomfort is twice as common in women. In the average year, about 1 person out of 1500 sees the doctor because of this discomfort, although many are just fine with this situation. Although the condition may cause a feeling of discomfort in the abdominal cavity for years, there is practically no danger of further complications.
What to do?
Since the symptoms of irritable bowel are similar to colon cancer symptoms, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – i.e. symptoms of potentially dangerous diseases – you should consult your doctor. The diagnosis will be based on a series of examinations – X-ray, sigmoidoscopy, barium and fecal examination to detect traces of blood.
Self-help: if this syndrome affects your life, you should determine why are symptoms getting worse. An important factor is emotional stress; if the stress is the cause, try to lead a peaceful life. If, for example, you discover that fried foods or raw vegetables exacerbate the symptoms, try to avoid them. It would be good to reduce the amount of alcohol and tobacco. The condition is often remarkably improved if a person ”moves on” to nutrition with many plant fibers.
Professional help: symptoms of irritable bowel can often be alleviated by medication. If, in your case, the main symptom is constipation, your doctor may recommend remedies for it; if the main problem is diarrhea, he will prescribe you a remedy for this discomfort. If you feel severe pain in the abdominal cavity, your doctor will prescribe the spasmolytic. If you are extremely tense, anxious, or under unusual stress, it would be wise to use a soothing agent(s) for a while.
All these medications can alleviate the symptoms, but they can not cure the disease. In most cases, irritable bowel syndrome lasts for a lifetime, with symptoms that, at irregular intervals, are reduced and exacerbated.