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What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome -- advisory by Marcus Heng, Guardian Pharmacist

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorder. It can affect anyone, although women are twice as likely to suffer from the syndrome. The presentation of IBS is unique to each individual, and can include symptoms like constipation, bloating, cramps and so on. Symptoms may also change sporadically without reason. The cause of IBS is not well understood. Some hypothesize that it is due to genetics, food sensitivity, stress, or even bacteria flora imbalance.

How do I know I have IBS?
Being so unspecific, only about 15% of sufferers seek medical attention. Doctors commonly use the Rome III criteria, which focuses on symptoms up to six months before diagnosis, as a diagnostic tool.

What are the available treatment options for IBS?
Treating IBS is tricky as there is no one solution applicable to all patients. The advice is usually to stick to a strict diet which excludes common triggers like lactose or beans, and then, if it is well tolerated, to slowly increase the food range in the diet. Symptomatic medication for diarrhoea, cramps, or bloating may sometimes help to relieve the discomfort. In certain cases, anti-depressants may also be prescribed.

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