IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition characterized by abdominal pain and/or altered bowel habits. There is no organic disease but symptoms arise from a disorder of gut function. The problem seems to be purely functional as there is an inexplicable modification of bowel motility. Symptoms usually arise after the age of 20 years.
Efficacy and safety of herbal medicines in patients with irritable bowel syndrome
Allopathic treatments for IBS include Anticholinergic drugs such as atropine. However these Allopathic treatments do not cure IBS. They are merely a way of suppressing symptoms.
Causes of IBS
The cause of IBS is not very clear as no anatomical anomaly, microbe, or biochemical disturbances have been implicated. However, a very strong psychological component has been associated with the development of IBS. Depressive, anxious and irritable people are most susceptible to developing this illness. The only explanation for the pathology is a change in the rhythm of the intestinal smooth musculature due to abnormal electrical activity. This could be due to hormonal changes, leading to excessive secretion of a chemical substance called cholecystokinin that can increase the motility of the intestines. This produces pain due to spasms in the intestines, and also diarrhea. Constipation on the other hand is due to contraction of one segment of the colon, which doesn't allow the faecal matter to smoothly move ahead into the rectum.
Signs and Symptoms of IBS
IBS usually manifests as lower abdominal pain or pain in the region of the umbilicus.
Bowel habits change alarmingly and oscillate between constipation and diarrhea. Those with constipation actually have an ineffectual urging or an unsatisfied feeling after voiding stools whereas those with diarrhea tend to have frequent stools with a lot of mucus.
Bleeding can take place in chronic cases due to the propensity to develop fissures or hemorrhoids in the rectum.
Abdominal bloating with incarceration of flatus at the splenic flexure of the colon is common. Some people complain of water brash and heartburn.
Concomitant symptoms related to pelvic congestion such as frequent urination, and pain during sex or menses is also not uncommon.
IBS usually never affects individuals for the first time after the fourth decade of life. It becomes life threatening if there is severe weight loss, large stools containing unabsorbed food, fever, further progression of the disease or bleeding. If bleeding occurs, it is usually due to either fissures or hemorrhoids which develop in long-standing cases of constipation, as a result of straining for stools.
Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a condition that is diagnosed clinically after excluding any structural pathology. Two diagnostic criteria are usually followed to conclude that a patient is probably suffering from IBS.
Some symptoms and criteria for diagnosis of IBS:
Persistent or regular pain in the abdomen for about 3 consecutive months, which is relieved by the passage of stools, that may or may not be accompanied by a change in the frequency or consistency of the stools.
If the above condition is associated with alterations in the form, frequency, or passage of stools with flatulent bloating of the abdomen or mucus in stools, then IBS is the most probable diagnosis.
Manning's criteria for diagnosis of IBS:
- Abdominal pain ameliorated after defecation.
- Increased frequency of stools.
- Bloating of the abdomen due to flatulent dyspepsia.
- Stools which are loose in consistency.
- Ineffectual urging or unsatisfied, unfinished feeling even after voiding stools.
- Passing of mucus in stools.