7 Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a condition that affects around 6 to 18% of the world’s population. There can be several reasons or triggers behind a person suffering from the IBS disease. Some of these triggers include stress, diet, poor sleep, or changes in gut bacteria. However, the triggers may differ from person to person. The same holds true for IBS symptoms and for irritable bowel syndrome treatment, which depends on the symptoms in the patients.

Still, there are some symptoms of IBS that you can keep an eye out for:

  • Pain in the abdomen and cramping

The most common symptom of IBS is abdominal pain. IBS generally disrupts the signals between the brain and the gut which may lead to painful tension in the digestive tract muscles. This pain mostly affects the entire abdomen or the lower abdomen, but is rarely seen to be affecting the upper abdomen alone. Some relief may also be experienced in this pain after one has a bowel movement. The IBS treatment for this symptom involves dietary modifications and bowel relaxants, and is they fail to help the patient may be prescribed specific IBS medication.

  • Diarrhoea and/or Constipation

Frequent and loose stools are common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS can be of three types, and diarrhoea-predominant IBS is one of them. Stool in this type of IBS tends to be loose and watery, and may contain traces of mucus.

On the other hand, there is also a constipation-predominant IBS condition which is much more common than the aforementioned. While diarrhoea is generally defined as having more than 12 bowel movements in a week, constipation is defined as less than 3 movements per week. Constipation in IBS also includes abdominal pain that is eased with bowel movements.

The third kind of IBS symptoms is when the patient suffers from alternating or mixed constipation and diarrhoea. The treatment approach needs to be customized as per an individual’s condition.

  • Changes in Bowel Movement

IBS has the tendency to affect the amount of time that stool remains in the intestines. This in turn affects the amount of water in the stools and can give the stool a range, from hard and dry to watery and loose. Apart from these, blood in the stool may also be caused because of IBS, and is a sign of a potentially serious medical condition.

  • Bloating and Gas

IBS leads to the alteration of the digestive process, which leads to the production of gas in the gut, which can further lead to uncomfortable bloating. Bloating is considered as one of the most persistent symptoms of IBS.

  • Intolerance for Food

Most of the people suffering from IBS say that there are some particular foods that trigger their symptoms. In fact, as many as two-thirds of the people suffering from the IBS disease tends to avoid certain foods. Trigger foods generally vary for different people.

  • Difficulty in Sleeping and Fatigue

More than 50% of the people who are suffering from IBS report the feeling of fatigue, low stamina, etc. In many cases, IBS is also related to insomnia, difficulty in going to sleep, frequently waking up during the night, and not feeling rested when waking up.

  • Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression have also been linked with IBS, forming a vicious cycle. It is not clear whether these symptoms are because of the stress of living with IBS or of mental stress. However, IBS causes an increase in anxiety, which in turn results in more problems in digestion.

IBS is quite a common condition and is not something that one should ignore dealing with.