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A – Z of Illnesses & Conditions

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a problem that affects the large intestine. It can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and a change in bowel habits. Some people with the disorder have constipation. Some have diarrhea. Others go back and forth between the two. Although IBS can cause a great deal of discomfort, it does not harm the intestines.

Irritable bowel syndrome is common. It affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than 45 years. No one knows the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome. There is no specific test for it. Your doctor may run tests to be sure you don't have other diseases. These tests may include stool sampling tests, blood tests, and x-rays. Your doctor may also do a test called a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

There is no cure for IBS, but the symptoms can often be managed by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. For example, it may help to:
  •     identify and avoid foods or drinks that trigger your symptoms
  •     alter the amount of fibre in your diet
  •     exercise regularly
  •     reduce your stress levels 
See your doctor if you think you have IBS symptoms, if you have feelings of depression or anxiety that are affecting your daily life. These problems rarely improve without treatment and your doctor can recommend treatments such as antidepressants or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can help you cope with IBS, as well as directly treating the condition. Your doctor may be able to identify IBS based on your symptoms, although blood tests may be needed to rule out other conditions.

Always seek the advice of your doctor before taking herbal remedies
    


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