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Types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi
(Ancient Latin saying)
Abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation – these are the symptoms of the disorder, called Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is a very common disorder – approximately one out of five people has the symptoms of IBS. In fact, IBS is somehow similar to the condition, when a person gets irritated, with the only difference that the irritation takes place in the bowel.
The good news is that in most people IBS does not cause symptoms serious enough to be perceived by people themselves as a disorder. About 20% of IBS patients experience symptoms, which disrupt with the ordinary style of living or working; and only about 5% of all sufferers really suffer from severe and frequent symptoms of the disorder.
Not very good news is that till now scientists have not revealed the exact reason of irritable bowel syndrome – consequently, pharmacists have not yet invented the pill, which could cure the disorder once and forever. On the other hand, there are plenty of options, including pills, diet recommendations, and traditional remedies, which help to prevent the bowel from “getting irritated” or to reduce the unpleasant consequences of its “irritation”.
Since the list of IBS symptoms contains such opposite conditions as diarrhea and constipation, it is logical to suppose that there is no single typical approach to IBS treatment, and choosing the strategy to fight IBS symptoms is directly linked to the type of IBS in every particular case.
There are three major types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, defined by modern medicine. These are:
-         IBS with constipation (also known as IBS-C)
-         IBS with diarrhea (also known as IBS-D)
-         IBS with alternating diarrhea and constipation (also known as IBS-A).
IBS with constipation is diagnosed when constipation is a predominant symptom of the disorder. Other signs may include stomach pain or discomfort, bloating, abnormally delayed or infrequent bowel movements, hard stool. Consequently, the whole treatment strategy is built around the task to relieve constipation and may include such options as laxatives or fiber supplements.
IBS with diarrhea is said to take place when the key symptoms of the disorder is diarrhea. Abnormally frequent bowel movements and watery stool are dominating signs; besides, they are also often accompanied with stomach pain and cramping. In order to treat IBS-D doctors usually prescribe anti-diarrhea pills, like Imodium, and may also advice to implement some changes to a patient’s eating regimen and daily menu.
IBS with alternating diarrhea and constipation is diagnosed, when a person suffers from both constipation and diarrhea, interchanging each other over time. It is interesting to note, that in this case of IBS diarrhea and constipation usually alternate over a period of weeks and months; but there are also cases when the opposite symptoms alternate over a period of hours and days – in this case doctors usually speak about the so-called mixed type of the disorder or “IBS - M”.
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Statistics say that all the three types of Irritable bowel syndrome are equally common among patients. Besides, people suffering from one type of IBS are most likely to experience some other type of the disorder later in life. However, in most cases doctor can easily identify the type of the disorder and pick the medication, which will strike right into the “bull eye” of the disorder (whether it is constipation, diarrhea, or both).
Ancient Romans once said “Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi”, which means “Things allowed to Jupiter are not necessary allowed to a bull”. Extrapolating this saying to the irritable bowel syndrome, we may say that the medication, which is good for one person, may not be good for another. Defining the type of IBS in each particular case is the key step to finding the proper solution of the irritable bowel.

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