IBS is one of the most common disorder of digestive system producing a spectrum of symptoms such as persistent and recurring abdominal pain associated with passing of motion, change of bowel habit (diarrhea, constipation, or alternate diarrhea and constipation), etc. without any apparent cause. The word syndrome means a group of symptoms. IBS is a syndrome because it can cause several symptoms in addition to those mentioned, like cramping, bloating, gas, frequent urge to pass stools, sensation of incomplete evacuation etc.
IBS is the disorder of function, which means that the bowel doesn’t work, as it should. If one visualizes the bowel, it appears perfectly normal without any inflammation or other structural changes. In people with IBS, the intestines squeeze too hard or not hard enough and cause food to move too quickly or too slowly through the intestines.
Through the years, IBS has been called by many names–colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, spastic bowel, and functional bowel disease, irritable colon, and nervous colon. Most of these terms are inaccurate and refers to understanding of diseases at that particular time frame. Colitis, for instance, means inflammation of the large intestine (colon). IBS, however, does not cause inflammation of the bowel and should not be confused with another disorders like ulcerative colitis.
IBS is very common condition across the globe and it is estimated that around 20% of people suffer from this condition some time during their life time. Over 40 million Americans and one third of the UK population suffer from IBS sometime in life. It is the single most common reason for which people seek gastroenterologist’s opinion. The statistics state that people miss work for IBS and related disorders more than for anything else, except colds.
IBS though affect people of all ages and both the sexes; it is more common in young people; usually in late adolescence or early adulthood. The condition is almost two to three times common in females as compared to males.
Nature of condition
Almost everything about IBS is totally dependent on the individual patient. For some, IBS may arise during times of stress or crisis, and then subside once the stressful event has passed. For others, IBS strikes seemingly randomly and without warning and never completely goes away. The duration of IBS is different for everybody. The symptoms may wax and wane, being particularly severe at some times and absent at others.
To sum up, this is a chronic relapsing condition.
Effect on lifestyle
IBS can be nothing more than a mild annoyance, completely debilitating, or anywhere in between. Again, it depends on the person and how he or she reacts to it and treats it. IBS can, however, be very painful and can severely affect a person’s quality of life, and is second only to the common cold as a cause of absenteeism from work.
IBS and Stress
The key point is that IBS is strongly related to emotional stress and strain. Research on the psychosocial aspects of these disorders has yielded three general observations:
1. Psychological stress exacerbates gastrointestinal symptoms.
2. Psychological disturbances amplify illness experience and adversely affect health status.
3. Having a functional GI disorder like IBS impairs the quality of one’s life.
Interestingly, even though the symptoms of IBS can be very painful and debilitating in some, it should be emphasized that this is never a life-threatening condition. Those afflicted with IBS do not have any greater chances of developing inflammatory conditions of bowel like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, neither do they pose any higher risk of having colon cancer. Moreover this disease cannot be passed to other individuals like some of the infections may have chance to do so.
Last but not the least is that with revolutionary mode of treatment of Homeopathy, IBS can be brought under control effectively, gently and safely.