IBS is a mix of belly discomfort or pain and trouble with bowel habits without any evidence of underlying damage. These symptoms occur over a long time, often years and could be:
- Diarrhea (often described as violent episodes of diarrhea)
- Constipation alternating with diarrhea
- Belly discomfort or cramps, usually in the lower half of the belly, that get worse after meals and feel better after a bowel movement
- A lot of gas or bloating causing your belly to stick out
- Harder or looser stools than normal (pellets or flat ribbon stools)
There are four types of the condition: IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), some people can have an alternating pattern of constipation and diarrhea, called mixed IBS (IBS-M) while others may not fit into any of these categories easily, called unsubtyped IBS (IBS-U).
Many things are known to trigger IBS symptoms, including certain foods, medicines, presence of gas or stool, and emotional stress. Studies suggest that in response to these triggers, the colon gets hypersensitive, overreacting to mildest of stimulations. Instead of slow, rhythmic muscle movements, the bowel muscles spasm. That causes diarrhea or constipation.
Treatment involves giving antispasmodics to relieve pain, anitdiarrheals, bulking agents such as psyllium, wheat bran, etc. and sometimes antidepressants.