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Irritating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Part 1)
March 2, 2009
Shhh…irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, isn’t exactly a topic that one brings up at the dinner table or during a business meeting. It might even be a topic that, if you have IBS, you don’t talk about with anyone except maybe your physician. But if you’re part of the 20% of Americans who live with IBS (and yes, some of them also have diabetes), chances are you welcome any information that may just help relieve some of your symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at this condition and find out what’s being done to help those who have it.
What is IBS?
One in five Americans has IBS, and women are more likely than men to have it. IBS can start early: About 50% of those who have it are diagnosed before the age of 35. In the past, this condition was called colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, or spastic bowel, but the proper name is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). By the way, gastroparesis, a type of neuropathy that can occur in people with diabetes, isn’t the same as irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroparesis may cause diarrhea and/or constipation in some, but it’s primarily a disorder of the stomach, whereas IBS mostly affects the large intestine.
Ask anyone who has IBS to name some of the symptoms and you’ll likely hear a common thread:
Many people report difficulty having a bowel movement, with an ability to pass only a small amount of stool or else pass a lot of mucus. Those who are more likely to have diarrhea report a frequent urge to “go.” Symptoms can wax and wane, too. Someone may go for months or even years without symptoms. And symptoms tend to fade or subside as one gets older.
Is IBS Serious?
What Causes IBS?
Researchers also believe that some people have “sensitive intestines” (now who would have thought intestines could be sensitive?). In other words, some people with IBS apparently have intestines that react more strongly to certain factors, such as:
Next week: How do you know if you really have IBS?
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