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Irritable bowel syndrome is a dysfunction in the digestive system that largely affects the large intestine or the colon. This is the part of the system that takes care of the bowel movements in the body including the storage and the excretion of solid waste materials. In irritable bowel syndrome, the large intestine becomes too sensitive. As to what’s the reason behind the sensitiveness of the large intestine, scientists and medical experts still cannot determine why. Researches are still being made up until now to ascertain the true cause of irritable bowel syndrome.
Because of the sensitiveness of the large intestine, specifically the lining, minor changes in the body system which is often brought on by stress and changes in the chemical make-up that enter the chambers result in reactions that affect the body’s bowel movements.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome may either suffer from diarrhea, characterized by a loose and watery stool or from constipation characterized by hard stool and infrequent defecation. This is a problem that is often mistaken as ordinary food poisoning or even indigestion. Unfortunately, since there is no single known cause of irritable bowel syndrome, there is also no diagnostic test that can confirm the disorder. The most that doctors do is to conduct tests that would eliminate other possibilities before continuing with the diagnosis.
One thing thought that separates irritable bowel syndrome from other diseases is the presence of abdominal pain that can last for a period of 12 months. Of course, the pain would not be there every day but a period of a year with abdominal pain is one of the main criteria for a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.
Because it is a syndrome, diagnosis will not depend on just one symptom. There are criteria that must be met before a conclusive diagnosis can be reached. The Rome II Diagnostic Criteria System is often used to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. This system is also used in other gastrointestinal problems in the body and has already been established in the medical field as solid and sound criteria for diagnosis.
There is actually no cure for irritable bowel syndrome. The only thing that your doctor can do is to help relieve the pain. Treatment often involves the taking in of medications that will help ease constipation and regulate the bowel system, change in the diet plans and sometimes stress relief through psychotherapy.
Patients are also asked to avoid certain foods that are associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Food items that should be avoided include foods that are rich in oil and fats such as French fries, alcoholic drinks, chocolate, milk and milk products such as ice cream and cheese and even coffee.