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What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Jan 23, 2008
People who encounter the term "irritable bowel syndrome" are often confused as to what that illness is. Many wonder about the various symptoms associated with the term. What is irritable bowel syndrome? In order to properly understand this illness, a person should learn about these factors:

1) Symptoms - These are the common manifestations of irritable bowel syndrome in human beings. In a sense, the symptoms tell what irritable bowel syndrome is by telling you how it affects your body. In the past, it was actually quite difficult to answer the question of "what is irritable bowel syndrome?" by looking at the symptoms.

You see, irritable bowel syndrome is not really a disease. It is a "syndrome" mainly because it is a group of symptoms.

This is because of the fact that some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome contradict each other. For instance, some people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome experience diarrhea while some people experience constipation.

2) Causes - As said before, irritable bowel syndrome is not a disease. It is actually a disorder. It is important to know this in order to understand what irritable bowel syndrome is. Many people misunderstand irritable bowel syndrome because they do not really understand its causes. Some people may think that irritable bowel syndrome is caused by eating some sort of food that does not agree with one's digestion. Others may think that irritable bowel syndrome is caused by a virus or bacteria of some sort.

However, one thing you need to understand about irritable bowel syndrome is the fact that it is not really "caused" by anything. Irritable bowel syndrome is a state in which your bowels do not function properly. This condition then leads to the various symptoms that people experience.

3) Triggers - In order to truly know what irritable bowel syndrome is, people should be able to understand the different things that trigger its symptoms. There are two main triggers of irritable bowel syndrome:

a) Stress - Studies have shown that stress can have a huge impact on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, the stress caused by knowing that a person has irritable bowel syndrome can trigger that person's symptoms. This is the reason why counseling is part of the treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

This is also the reason why people today turn to alternative therapies for their treatment. Some people take up yoga or go through the process of acupuncture to help them relieve stress.

b) Food - Eating the wrong type of food can definitely trigger the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Foods that have a high fat content should be avoided by people with IBS. Alcohol should also be avoided as it is a known trigger of the symptoms of IBS.

c) Treatments- Knowing what irritable bowel disease is also involves knowing about the various treatments that are used to relieve the symptoms of it. There are various drugs that are in use today to help stop one or more of its symptoms. However, since irritable bowel syndrome is not a disease, it is also incurable.

What a person suffering from this illness can do is to try and keep the symptoms at bay by using different treatments like specialized diets and relaxation techniques.

By keeping these various factors in mind, a person can answer the question of "what is irritable bowel syndrome?"
About the Author
Janet Rusky is a health freak and as an ex IBS sufferer offers her hints and tips to manage this discomfort on her website. http://irritable-bowel-syndrome.nichetray.com
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