Irritable bowel syndrome
What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a bothersome, but harmless condition with altered sensation in the colon and disturbance of bowel movements. The predominant symptoms are pain, bloating and alternating stool consistency (constipation and/or diarrhea). The symptoms occur frequently after meals and may increase during the day; they are typically worse in the evening. In relation to stress they can worsen significantly. Irritable bowel syndrome is three times more common in women than in men.
What is the cause of irritable bowel syndrome?
The cause is still unknown. It is not contagious, malignant nor hereditary. Sometimes the condition occurs after abdominal infections. The disease usually begins in the teenage years or in early adulthood and usually lasts for several years.
What are the symptoms?
- Discomfort / abdominal pain; Can ease after bowel movement
- Bloating and increased flatulence
- Diarrhea or constipation - often alternating
- Feeling of incomplete bowel emptying after defecation
- Mucus discharge
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis can be made solely on the typical symptoms, medical history and examinations that exclude other disorders. Tests may include:
- Endoscopy to rule out other diseases in the colon and rectum
- Feces samples to rule out infectious reasons
- Blood test for gluten allergy, milk allergy, and metabolic disorders
What can I do?
- Be sure to consume the right amount of fiber each day (35-50g). See www.altomkost.dk (Danish site)
- Avoid factors that worsen the symptoms (coffee, candy, gum and large amounts of fruit)
- Drink plenty of fluids (2.5 to 3 liters) daily
- Exercise daily. It prevents constipation and coordinates bowel movements.
- Let annoying intestinal gas out whenever possible
- Avoid increased use of coffee, tobacco, alcohol and hot spices.
What happens over time?
The symptoms come and go and can be absent for periods. The condition is in no way dangerous and does not develop into cancer or other diseases.
Can you take medicine for irritable bowel syndrome?
- Agents with bowel spasms can have a beneficial effect for some people
- Remedies against diarrhea or constipation may be necessary if it is the predominant problem
- Remedies against air and rumbling have a very limited effect
- Hypnotherapy (therapy under hypnosis) is carried out by some psychologists
- Cognitive therapy (therapy focusing on the patient's thoughts of themselves). Carried out by some psychologists
- Stress management. Carried out by some psychologists
- Biofeedback (handling of muscle tension and relaxation of the pelvic floor and bowel muscles). Carried out by relaxation therapists and some physiotherapists