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Symptoms Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Dec 26, 2007
If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the signs and symptoms may vary greatly from one person to the next. These symptoms may often mimic those of other diseases. The most common symptoms are:

* Cramping or abdominal pain
* Feeling bloated
* Gas
* Constipation or diarrhea - one can sometimes have alternating bouts of both
* Mucus in the stool

Sometimes you may have only mild symptoms of IBS. At other times, they can be quite disabling for people. Sometimes these signs and symptoms will not respond well to medical treatment. It may happen that symptoms of IBS will be present with other diseases. Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor about your concerns.

For most people, irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition. However, there may be periods when your signs and symptoms are quite bad and even times when your symptoms seem to improve dramatically or disappear altogether.
When to seek medical advice

Approximately one in five adults who live in the United States has signs and symptoms of IBS. Less than half of these seek any kind of medical help. If you happen to have a constant change in your bowel habits or if you have other symptoms or signs of irritable bowel syndrome, it is important that you seek the help of your physician because such symptoms may indicate that you have a more serious underlying condition such as colon cancer.

Your doctor might find ways to help you obtain relief from your symptoms as well as eliminate some of the other more serious conditions of the colon such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis as well as colon cancer. Your doctor may also help you to avoid possible complications from symptoms such as chronic diarrhea.

IBS Screening and diagnosis

In order to come to the conclusion that you have IBS, it is very important to have a comprehensive physical examination as well as a complete medical history.

Criteria for making a diagnosis

Usually there are no physical signs to definitely indicate that a person has irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore, the diagnosis of IBS becomes a process of elimination. To help with this process, a diagnostic criteria has been developed by researchers known as Rome criteria that is use to diagnose IBS along with other functional gastrointestinal disorders. These are conditions that are characterized by an abnormality in bowel function but normal bowel appearance.

You should have certain symptoms and signs according to these criteria before your doctor will diagnose you with IBS. The most important of these symptoms are discomfort and abdominal pain that lasts for approximately twelve weeks. However, these weeks do not have to occur consecutively. Two of the other symptoms must also be present:

* Change in the consistency or frequency of your stools.
* Urgency, straining or feeling that you are not able to empty your bowels completely.
* Abdominal distention or bloating
* Mucus in the stool

If you happen to fit the IBS criteria but you do not seem to have any of the red flag symptoms or signs, then your doctor may prescribe a course of treatment with your having to undergo any additional testing.
About the Author
Article written by Jessica Bradbury, she has a site dedicated to bottom line information on IBS, including spastic colon syndrome and the cure for irritable bowel syndrome.
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