Irritable bowel syndrome

Fact Checked

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also known as spastic colon and irritable colon, is a condition that results in bloating, abdominal, constipation and diarrhoea  The exact cause of the condition is not known yet, but it has been reported that factors such as infection, certain foods and even emotional stress may contribute to the condition. Treatment relies on eliminating the known causes such as the food that caused the condition and managing emotional stress.

People with sensitive colons are more likely to suffer from stomach upsets and IBS. However, it is important to note that IBS does not cause any long-term damages or harmful effects on the body.stomach pain

Signs and symptoms

  • Abdominal pain that lessens once the person passes gas or feces
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • The person doesn’t feel emptiness in his bowels after defecating
  • Nausea
  • Mucus may be present the feces

Types of IBS

  • Constipation-predominant. You may experience alternating constipation and normal defecation.
  • Diarrhea-predominant. You may have to urgently go to the bathroom every time you suffer from diarrhea. It usually takes place upon rising and after eating.
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea


If you have a feeling that you may be suffering from IBS, it is important that you diagnose the condition and seek medical help in order to confirm that the symptoms you are suffering from are not caused by any other condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis or polyps.

Similarly, coeliac disease –caused due to gluten intolerance—may also produce the same symptoms as IBS. Lactose intolerance also causes cramps, bloating and diarrhea, therefore, it is important that you consult your doctor to determine what illness you are suffering from to receive prompt treatment.

Your doctor may carry out the following diagnostic tests:

  • A complete medical check-up and physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests
  • Sigmoidoscopy—inserting a small tube into the bowel lining
  • Colonoscopy—checking the colon under sedation


Unlike many other digestive problems, IBS cannot be treated through dietary/lifestyle changes and medication. The best way to control the condition is by eliminating the triggers:

  • Increasing your dietary fiber and clear fluid intake
  • Restricting the consumption of dairy—in case, you suspect that lactose intolerance may be a cause
  • Restricting the consumption of food that may cause gas and bloating, such as cabbage and beans
  • Or diarrhea predominant IBS, take antidiarrheals such as lomotil and Imodium
  • To alleviate pain, take over-the-counter pain relievers or opiates
  • For constipation, take medication that might control it
  • Manage your stress and avoid drastic dietary changes and meal timing

Further Training

Irritable bowel syndrome is not a serious medical emergency and is not covered in St Mark James first aid and CPR programs. If you are concerned with IBS or need more advice consult your doctor.

Video Related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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