Irritable Bowel Syndrome
or Something Else?
Digestive problems can be confusing. Is it irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease? What about ulcerative colitis or Crohn's? Or a plain
old ulcer or indigestion? One thing's for sure: Plenty of people have trouble
with their digestive system. IBS
is one of the most common disorders.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- You have frequent abdominal pain.
- Your stomach feels
- Having a bowel movement relieves the ache or discomfort.
- How often you have a bowel movement has changed.
- The stool comes out lumpy
and hard, or loose and watery.
- Having a bowel movement feels uncontrollably urgent,
difficult to pass or unfinished.
- You notice mucus in the stool.
These are the most common symptoms of IBS, though
everyone's case is different- and may not indicate IBS at all, but some other
digestive condition. Tell your doctor about any symptoms you have. If you do have IBS, you can find
relief with lifestyle changes and medications.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Is IBS linked to any disease, such as colon cancer ?
- How do I know what triggers my symptoms?
- How does stress contribute to
my condition? What can I do about it?
- What dietary and fitness changes
should I consider?
- Are there medications I can take?
Did You Know?
- IBS is not a disease, says the National Digestive
Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). It's a functional disorder, which
means that the bowel doesn't work as it should.
- IBS can be painful. But it does not damage the bowel
or cause any other conditions.
- Stress can trigger the symptoms of IBS. In fact, the
bowel can overreact to all sorts of things, including food, exercise and
- A barium enema is an x-ray of the bowel using a liquid called barium to
make the bowel show up better. This test is also called a lower GI
- An endoscopy is a test to look at the inside of the bowel.
Know Your Numbers
- One in five Americans has IBS, making it one of the
most common disorders diagnosed.
- About 80% of those with IBS are women.
- You can get IBS at any age, but people in their teens
though their 40s have the most cases. About 15% to 20% of people in that age
range have IBS.
For more, please read the Irritable Bowel Syndrome
WebMD the Magazine - September/October 2005
Last Editorial Review: 10/31/2005
© 2005 WebMD Inc. All rights