What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or spastic colon, is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects thousands of people. The disorder is common in men and women as well as the young and old. Statistically, almost one in five Americans suffer from IBS. It often goes completely untreated, as many patients feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to discuss its symptoms with a doctor.
The disorder is a functional disorder that affects the activities of the large intestine, or colon. There is no structural abnormality in the intestines of any patient suffering from IBS. There are several main symptoms, but the main factor is discomfort caused by changes in the bowel’s habits. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal bloating, pain, cramping, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Sometimes, these symptoms will alternate.
There are several types of irritable bowel syndrome. IBS-D is used to describe a patient that suffers predominantly from diarrhea. IBS-C refers to those patients that suffer predominantly from constipation, while IBS-A describes patients that suffer from an alternating pattern of diarrhea and constipation. A fourth type of IBS exists, IBS-PI (post-infectious), which is directly related to a bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal system.
Causes Currently, there is no known specific cause of irritable bowel syndrome. A popular theory is that those patients that suffer from IBS have an unusually sensitive colon that reacts strongly to certain foods and even stress. In a patient with IBS, the intestine either absorbs too much liquid or too little.
Additionally, the immune and nervous system may affect the symptoms or onset of IBS. Recent studies have shown a direct effect of serotonin on the activity of the intestinal system. Patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome seem to have reduced serotonin receptor activity in the intestinal tract that, in turn, causes abnormal serotonin levels within the gastrointestinal system. Furthermore, it is common for patients with IBS to also suffer from depression and anxiety.
Diagnosis and Treatments In order to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, one must visit a doctor. There is no specific test, however, other tests such as a blood test, stool sample, x-ray, sigmoidoscopy, and a colonoscopy are performed to eliminate any other disease. After a series of tests is performed, based on the patient’s symptoms, IBS may be diagnosed and treatment may begin. If one believes to be suffering from IBS, it is important to see a doctor, to at least rule out a more serious condition.
Treatments for irritable bowel syndrome range from adjusting one’s diet to over the counter medications to prescription drugs like Zelnorm. Many patients take fiber supplements in addition to the medications to help regulate their intestinal tract. Most patients find relief with medications to reduce diarrhea and constipation.
Irritable bowel syndrome is an uncomfortable disorder that affects the normal functions of the large intestine. While it does affect both sexes, usually, more women suffer from IBS. The disorder is commonly controlled my medication, diet, and modifying stress levels. Even though the disorder is uncomfortable, it is not generally related to more serious diseases and is not a precursor to cancer.
Update: If you or somebody you know takes Zelnorm for IBS, you should be aware of the recent Zelnorm Recall issued by the FDA. Zelnorm has been linked to serious, life-threatneing side effects. Learn more by visiting one of the links below.
Learn more about IBS and the Zelnorm Recall:
Schmidt & Clark | A National Law Firm, specializing in mass torts and drug side effect lawsuits. The law firm is handling Zelnorm lawsuits in all 50 states and has a history of representing IBS patients in other litigation matters. For more information about Schmidt & Clark, please visit: http://www.schmidtandclark.com
For more detailed information about IBS and Zelnorm, please visit our:IBS - Zelnorm Recall Attorneys and Lawyers