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Causes and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Although irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) targets millions of people worldwide, this condition still has not achieved the status of a disease: it is usually called by doctors and scientists a functional disorder of the colon. The matter is that the intestines and colon of a patient with IBS do not seem to be changed, improper, or damaged. Actually, the examination of the inner lining of the colon does not show any signs of the disease.
Nonetheless, sufferers of IBS do experience diverse unpleasant and painful symptoms. The most prominent and frequently occurring ones are abdominal discomfort, pain, cramping, bloating, and change in the bowel habits. IBS is usually accompanied either by diarrhea (frequent and watery stools), constipation (opposite to the previous symptom), or interchanging of the first and the second conditions.
Other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are:
-         urge to move the bowels and inability to do so;
-         mucus in the stool;
-         gas;
-         indigestion;
-         feeling of fullness;
-         rarely, nausea and vomiting.
It should be noted that fever, blood in the stool, weight loss, and persistent severe pain are NOT the symptoms of IBS and may indicate the existing of another disease.
A peculiar feature of IBS pain is that it is relieved by bowel movements. Also, this condition is characterized by the change in the form, consistency, and frequency of bowel movements. In the majority of sufferers IBS tends to cause one symptom more than the others.
Irritable bowel is suggested if the signs occurfor at least 12 weeks (inconsistently) out of the previous 12 months. For the majority of patients IBS is a chronic condition; however, symptoms usually come and go; they may improve with time, or their severity and frequency may change.
Such things as large meal, stress, menstruation in women, medicines, certain foods (coffee, dairy products, wheat, rye, barley, beans, cabbage, chocolate, fizzy drinks) provoke the outbreak of the disorder or aggravate the symptoms. On the contrary, foods high in fiber may reduce the symptoms in some people (cereals, breads, broccoli).
Irritable bowel may be accompanied by psychological symptoms as anxiety and depression, besides pure physical ones. A patient may also suffer from headaches, fatigue, backache, bad taste in the mouth, and sexual and sleep problems.
The exact cause of IBS is still an enigma for the scientists. Some theories suggested name such possible reasons for the development of IBS:
-         dysfunction of a colon: it is believed that the latter is abnormally sensitive to particular things in some people; it reacts to the triggers with sudden spasms, constrictions, or even temporary disability;
-         immune system may mistakenly target the colon as if trying to get rid of infection in there;
-         neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin, may play a role: 95% of body’s serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal tract; however, it is usually eliminated with the help of receptors in the bowel lining; in IBS this process is disrupted and too much serotonin is believed to remain in the intestines, causing IBS symptoms;
-         bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract may also cause IBS, scholars believe;
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-         hormonal imbalance may also be the reason, because women report of IBS aggravation during their periods.
Whatever the reason is, it works more aggressively with young women, making them the ones who suffer from IBS more often than anybody else. Nevertheless, there is good news as well: IBS does not lead to any of the known potentially dangerous diseases and does not cause permanent harm to the colon.

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