Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) – causes,symptoms,diagnosis,treatment

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS or spastic colon is a disorder that affects the large intestines and it can cause pain in the stomach and lead to diarrhea and constipation.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) - causes,symptoms,diagnosis,treatment
Closeup of doctor checking patient daily report checklist

The actual cause of this disease is not known and it cannot be cured but treatment can be prescribed to reduce its effects.


As said earlier, the actual cause of IBS is not known.

The following are the causes of irritable bowel syndrome;

  • Failure of the nervous system to control the gut function appropriately
  • Having other diseases like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Excessive contraction of the gut muscles
  • Hormonal imbalance


Symptoms of IBS in some people disappear and appear again after some time but in some people, they can show up persistently. The following are the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome;

  • Constipation – This is one of the most common signs of IBS and it is usually witnessed by over half of the people suffering from this disease. The basic argument put forward by researchers as to why constipation occurs is the delay in communication between the brain and bowel.
  • Pain and cramping – People who have IBS can feel lower abdominal pain and cramping and this can be caused by the excessive contractions of the gut muscles. It’s among the common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diarrhea – Irritable bowel syndrome can cause diarrhea as it can lead to excessive contractions of the gut muscles, thus forcing poop to move out too quickly and frequently.
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea – This disease can cause a person to have somehow a confused feeling as the person constipates sometimes and sometimes, they can have diarrhea.
  • Gas and bloating –The basic explanation as to why IBS causes gas and bloating is not known, but there are two theories from medics. Some claim the cause of too much gas and bloating in people with IBS is the inability of the gut to tolerate and transport gas due to the infection. Another theory claims that the bacteria in the gut produce toxins which leads to excessive gas and eventual bloating.
  • Increased sensitivity to food – People with IBS suffer from very high food sensitivity. The gut becomes highly sensitive and reacts to foods and this causes spasms.
  • Fatigue – This is also very common among the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Difficulty sleeping – Many IBS patients have complained of experiencing this symptom. The actual relationship between the two has not been established.
  • Anxiety and depression – The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has also noted that these two symptoms are very common in people with and they can worsen the effects of this disease.
  • Change in stool – A person suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome can start witnessing harder or loose stools when visiting the toilet. The stool can be in the form of pellets or flat ribbons.


There is no actual test for IBS. Doctors can start by observing the signs and interrogating the patient to rule out the possibility of the existence of any other disease apart from Irritable bowel syndrome.

After ruling out other diseases, the doctor can carry out any of the following procedures;

  • Symptoms observation – This is the initial procedure a medic can carry out to establish that it is real you have IBS.
  • Medical history – The doctor can also ask the patient if they have undergone recent medication on any disease that can trigger irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Testing physically – The doctor can check for possible abdominal bloating by listening for sounds in your stomach using a stethoscope. They can also check for tenderness and pain by tapping on your abdomen.
  • Blood test
  • Stool test
  • Hydrogen breath test
  • Colonoscopy to check the colon for any possible infection


Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome can involve;

  • Medication – This is the most common method. Doctors can prescribe medications such as alosetron,rifaximin, and linaclotide. This is the common method used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Taking fiber supplements
  • Use of laxatives such as magnesium hydroxide oral
  • Use of anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Use of antidepressants is also used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pain medication using drugs like pregabalin
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding some foods which trigger IBS
  • Acupuncture
  • Reducing stress

All these treatment procedures are just used to reduce the effects of IBS, but in general terms, this disease cannot be cured. No actual medicine to cure it has been invented so far.

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