Irritable bowel syndrome?

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floopowder_veritaserum
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/2/2007 1:10 PM (GMT -7)   
What are the symptoms causes and risk factors for ibs?
I am new here and I think I might have it.
PlEaSe help

7Lil
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   Posted 1/2/2007 1:27 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi floopowder,

Welcome to HealingWell!  :-)

Here is a  summary for you taken from the NDDIC webpage:

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized most commonly by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not permanently harm the intestines and does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer. Most people can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, and prescribed medications.

Symptoms:

Abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort are the main symptoms of IBS. However, symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people have constipation, which means hard, difficult-to-pass, or infrequent bowel movements. Often these people report straining and cramping when trying to have a bowel movement but cannot eliminate any stool, or they are able to eliminate only a small amount. If they are able to have a bowel movement, there may be mucus in it, which is a fluid that moistens and protect passages in the digestive system. Some people with IBS experience diarrhea, which is frequent, loose, watery, stools. People with diarrhea frequently feel an urgent and uncontrollable need to have a bowel movement. Other people with IBS alternate between constipation and diarrhea. Sometimes people find that their symptoms subside for a few months and then return, while others report a constant worsening of symptoms over time.

 

Doctors don’t know what causes IBS.  They have, however, speculated that it is caused by a disruption in the gut flora.  Usually this can happen after a round of intense antibiotics, surgery or food poisoning.

Because docs don't know what causes IBS, it is hard to say the risk factors.  Here are some generalizations taken from WebMD:

  • Sex. about 80% of IBS sufferers are women, reports the American College of Gastroenterology. Researchers aren't sure why this is so, but they suspect that changing hormones in the female menstrual cycle may have something to do with it.
  • Age. IBS can affect people of all ages, but it is more likely to occur in people in their teens through their 40s. about 15% to 20% of people in that age range have IBS, according to a study from the Southern California Permanente Medical Group in San Diego. The prevalence rate drops down to 10% to 12% in people older than 50.
  • Emotional trouble. Many IBS patients appear to be stressed, have a psychiatric disorder, or have experienced some sort of a traumatic event such as sexual abuse or domestic violence. It is not clear what comes first -- the emotional turmoil or the IBS. Nevertheless, there's evidence that stress management and behavioral therapy helps relieve symptoms.
  • Food sensitivities. Some people may have digestive systems that rumble angrily with consumption of dairy, wheat, fructose (a simple sugar found in fruits), or sorbitol (a sugar substitute). Eating certain fare such as fatty foods, carbonated drinks, and alcohol can also invite chronic digestive upset. There's no proof any of these edibles cause IBS, but they may trigger symptoms.
  • Eating large meals, or eating while doing a stressful activity, such as driving or working in front of the computer. Again, these activities do not cause IBS, but for the hypersensitive colon, they can spell trouble.
  • Taking certain medications. Studies have shown an association between IBS symptoms and antibiotics, antidepressants, and drugs containing sorbitol.
  • Experiencing "traveler's diarrhea" or food poisoning. There is a controversy over whether these events may trigger the first onset of IBS symptoms.

I hope that helps you.... But, you really should see a doc for a diagnosis.

If not, you can do an internet search for IBS and find a plethora of info.


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Post Edited (7Lil) : 1/2/2007 2:15:22 PM (GMT-7)


Keriamon
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   Posted 1/2/2007 1:49 PM (GMT -7)   
You know, I find it interesting that the rate of diagnosis of IBS for people over 50 drops. Most old people I know (especially women) eat Correctol laxatives and drink prune juice daily just to keep regular. Wouldn't that seem to indicate that large numbers of old people have IBS too?

floopowder_veritaserum
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/2/2007 1:54 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for the quick help!
I freaked out yesterday because I had a really flat stool and now today I am fine.
In the case of colon or rectal cancer you wouldn't just get reg. stools all of a sudden would you? They would stay flat because the tumours probably don't just disappear-tell me if this is wrong
Also I've been having some chronic constipation in the past although thats cleared up...
I've also had some gas- a lot...
One last thing, I can't get a proper diagnosis by a doctor just right now so pleeaase peoples out there... help me :P

floopowder_veritaserum
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/2/2007 1:55 PM (GMT -7)   
Maybe older people are more health conscious O__O

Keriamon
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Date Joined Jun 2005
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   Posted 1/2/2007 4:43 PM (GMT -7)   
Nah, you don't take laxatives because you're health conscious; you take them because you're constipated. Not to mention that these same people downing prune juice also keep candy bowls stocked on their coffee tables, so I don't think "healthy" is something they're attempting. "Regular", yes, "healthy", no.

Unless I'm badly mistaken, colon cancer usually causes diarrhea and/or pain as an initial symptom (and it doens't manifest as a tumor very often either). But it's actually fairly rare in people under 40 years of age. Unfortunately, "cancer" is one of the darlings, if you will, of the media. I am, by no means, saying it doesn't occur, but the media knows that fear sells, and so they talk about cancer much more frequently and in bleaker terms than any other disease (just as they talk about gang murders more than they talk about the local Eagle Scout community building project). IBS is a much more common illness than cancer, and yet how often do you see articles on "prevent IBS by eating these veggies!"? You are many, many times more likely to get IBS than to get colon cancer, and yet IBS recieves little to no media coverage because it can't kill you. What's so scary about a disease that you just live with for the rest of your long life? I say this to you because quite a few people come on here in an absolute cancer panic, when, out of everyone on here that I've read about in a year and a half (hundreds, I would think), only one person ended up with a cancer diagnosis (and his symptoms included unbearable pain, bleeding, and diarrhea, as best I remember). Most people's fear of cancer is unwarranted, especially in light of no family history, youth, etc.

One of the reasons why a doctor may not be willing to diagnose you is because you are supposed to exhibit unusual bowel symptoms for at least 12 (dont' have to be consecutive) weeks out of a year. If you only occasionally have constipation, then that's not IBS. Perfectly normal people have constipation and diarrhea throughout their perfectly normal lives. I think someone read that the average American has 4 episodes of diarrhea a year. And given that we eat a very low-fiber diet, I would think episodes of constipation would be more frequent than that. Your stool shape could be explained by a swollen internal hemmroid (you're very likely to have these if you deal with constipation fairly reguarly), or just by something you ate. Sometimes I get weird stools for no reason that I can think of. It all depends on what you've eaten and how it decides to stick together.

The reason why the Rome II Criteria for IBS diagnosis says that you have to have bowel problems for 12 weeks out of a year is because it's so easy to get your bowels messed up for perfectly normal reasons, like eating a bad meal, being on certain medications, or taking a round of antibiotics. When you have problems for more than 12 weeks a year (84 days), then it's probably not a passing thing and is more likely a long-term or permanent problems.

Have you tried any OTC gas relief pills for your gas? Some people who don't have IBS produce more gas than normal. You may need to modify your diet a bit too if you notice that certain things--like carbonated drinks, raw veggies, beans, etc.--give you more gas than you're willing to tolerate. Of course, when you start to get constipated, you can always fall back on the prune juice! Also, you may want to consider SLOWLY adding a fiber supplement to your diet to see if that helps keep you regular. Like I said, Americans (followed by the other Western Nations) are horrible about eating a low-fiber diet, and some people's bodies just really object to that.

Canyonbabe711
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Date Joined Mar 2006
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   Posted 1/2/2007 11:13 PM (GMT -7)   
I know a lot of people my age 70 that have been diagnosed with IBS. You just don't hand with us older folk. It seems that it is usually IBS -C or alternating but I think our stomach do become more sensitive as we age. I think the C part is cause we are not as acitive though and most people are on Calcium at our age for osteoporosis. I just think it we tend to think it is just a part of aging and deal with it differently since we are not out working, partying and all those things you guys want to do. If we can't go to party cause we don't feel well it just doesn't bother us as much as it would if we were younger and we won't even get into the more intimate part of living.

floopowder_veritaserum
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/3/2007 9:53 AM (GMT -7)   
But also the only reason I cant get a diagnosis is that our family's too busy these days...
I've had a lot of constipation in the past also gas and oddly shaped bowel movements, I'm sure I've had about 12 weeks of it.
I've heard that you can't self diagnose IBS, is that true?

7Lil
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   Posted 1/3/2007 10:32 AM (GMT -7)   

The problem with self diagnosis is that you could be wrong.  Docs can be wrong too, but they usually do a bunch of tests before ruling IBS.  You really should see a doc.

BTW - Are you a Harry Potter fan? tongue


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Keriamon
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Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 1/3/2007 11:42 AM (GMT -7)   
A lot of doctors can't diagnose it either, lol. 
 
I have to admit, I'm one of those people who only goes to the doctor when I get really sick and absolutely have to have medicine, and I have little to no faith left in GIs.  Too many horror stories on here, not to mention that I was dismissed has having IBS for five years when, oops, it turned out to be my gall bladder all along.  The last GI I went to did a test for occult blood, without telling me she was doing it and without telling me the results were negative, and tried to schedule me for a colonoscopy, although my symptoms didn't make me a candidate for pretty much the only thing that shows up on a colonoscopy: inflammation.  Luckily I bowed out of that test, and after finding this board and calcium, I was right as rain again. 
 
If I can manage to survive by self-medicating and not seeing a doctor and not having a bunch of tests run, I'll do it.  I've been through my round of tests that proved nothing, so I don't care to do them all over again.  I strongly suspect you will be told the same thing most everyone else is told: sounds like IBS, get more fiber.  If you're not lucky, you'll be put through some mildly invasive tests which will prove that there's nothing physically wrong with you--hence you have IBS--and at the end of the day you'll be short a good deal of money and still have nothing to show for it but that glass of orange Metamuceil staring you in the face. 
 
Going for several days without a bowel movement, especially after using a chemical laxative or enema, or only ever being able to achieve a bowel movement by using chemical laxatives or enemas, is very great cause for concern and you should see a doctor in those cases always.  There are some medicines out now to treat chronic constipation, but they appear to be very strong, and only for people who can't manage to have a bowel movement otherwise (anyone approaching normal usually gets bad diarrhea from them).  Have you tried treating your constipation with fiber, prune juice and/or aloe vera yet to see if you can make yourself regular?  Several people swear by walking/running daily to keep them regular too.  If you can manage to make a bowel movement, but it's not very pleasant to pass, I would suggest upping your fiber and trying non-chemical laxatives first.  If that doesn't help, then when you do see your doctor, and he starts in on the "get more fiber" schpeal, you can tell him you already get the maximum recommended dose a day and it's not helping, can you explore prescription options? 
 
Also, look into probiotics, like Digestive Advanatage (found in chain pharamacies in their bowel products section).  They, like fiber, can cause a little extra gas initially, but many people with either diarrhea or constipation have found that they help their bowel movements and/or their gas and pain problem in the long run.  You can also try a chewable pill called Equalactin (also found in the bowel products section).  It contains a type of calcium that balances the water in your digestive tract and helps moisten your stools if they are too dry (i.e. constipation).  It's pricey for long-term use ($4 a box, which lasts anywhere from a week to a few days), but I certainly saw better bowel movements from taking it. 

floopowder_veritaserum
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/3/2007 2:12 PM (GMT -7)   
~~BTW - Are you a Harry Potter fan?~~

<sarcasm>Hem hem wow, how did you know....<sarcasm> :P
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Today in the bright sunny morn' I had a bowel movement that was normal (2 or 3 more after that :Z) so well I thought JUBILATE DEO! Then like around 1:30 PM after my 2 other bowel movements I had some diarrhea- it was like a paste (sorry for being so graphic...) but not so watery like the usual type that people get. Oh, also my 3 normal b.m. were restored back to normal shape... could this be I.B.S.?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've heard that parasites are thought to be non-existent or extremely rare in developed countries-so does that mean that it isn't being researched enough or something? I've also heard that IBS is caused by parasites sometimes, but that can't be true because it's a brain-gut dysfunction (I researched further :)) right? I found this stuff on some kind of website selling parasite-bowel cleansing medicine...they might have just made it up to get more customers.

Post Edited (floopowder_veritaserum) : 1/3/2007 6:49:08 PM (GMT-7)


Keriamon
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Date Joined Jun 2005
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   Posted 1/3/2007 3:47 PM (GMT -7)   
Parasites are not common in Western countries, but it is very easy to pick one up on your travels to less than developed countries. Some common ways to get them in the US, UK and Europe is through 1) drinking fresh water which has been contaminated upstream by raw sewage, 2) walking barefoot outdoors, especially where animals deficate, 3) eating contaminated food products (apparently this is getting quite common in the US right now).

Have you eaten or taken anything that would have caused you to go from being constipated to having diarrhea? Very soft, non-watery stools are often caused by a laxative or some food product that acts like a laxative. Sugar alcohols (found in almost all sugar-free foods), can be one of those things.

If you haven't been taken or eaten anything out of the unusual, then yes, you sudden switch from C to D could be a good indication of IBS. It's my understanding that parasites typically cause diarrhea, although bad bacteria (which is actually easy to catch, even in the West, and has been theorized to be the leading cause of IBS) can cause either diarrhea or constipation, and is best self-identified by really stinky (as in even you can't stay in the room afterwards) gas and bowel movements. There's a new breathalyzer test out in the US (don't know about other countries) that can measure the gases in your exhalations and determine if you have something in your guts that shouldn't be there.

Yes, IBS is technically brain-gut dysfunction and only a brain-gut dysfunction, but you will frequently (as in darn near always) find that doctors, web sites, and everyone in general, lumps all bowel problems which don't go away quickly and on their own as "IBS", regardless of the actual source of the problem. Most doctors would label me as having IBS because I have trouble with D, although my problem is caused directly by a lack of gall bladder (and is actually known as post-cholesectomy syndrome); IBS's number one defining characteristic is they can't figure out why you're having the problems you're having. "IBS" is about as descriptive a term as "cancer", and doctors seem to be using it with increasing frequency, along with a shrug and "there's nothing I can do to help." That's why most of us are on this site, actually; because we can't get information out of anyone else.

7Lil
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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3269
   Posted 1/3/2007 3:56 PM (GMT -7)   

Floopowder,
The Harry Potter connection is cleary made by your screen name.  :-)

BTW - Keri's right... I've got nothing else to add to that. tongue


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floopowder_veritaserum
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/3/2007 6:50 PM (GMT -7)   
Well, no more questions now. Thanks guys (and girls :Z)!
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