Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder, featuring recurrent abdominal pain and intermittent diarrhea, often alternating with constipation.  There is normally no obvious cause.

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This disorder most commonly affects people between the ages of 20 and 30 and is twice as common in men. The syndrome can be divided into four types depending on which is the main symptom - abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation or diarrhoea with constipation.The syndrome is not the same as Ulcerative Colitis. Colitis is an inflammation of the colon, whereas in IBS, the colon is not inflamed.

The incidence of the condition in the general population is estimated to lie between 10 and 20 per cent. The true incidence may be higher than this, because it is thought that many people with IBS symptoms do not seek medical advice.

The precise cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown. The condition often begins during a period of emotional stress and symptoms worsen in stressful situations. Up to 60 per cent of people with the syndrome have psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. The disorder sometimes develops after a gastrointestinal infection. An increased sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods, may also contribute.

The chemical transmitter that mediates the change to pressures within the bowel has been identified as serotonin, a chemical found in the brain as well as in the bowel. Ninety-five per cent of serotonin is found in the bowel. In the bowel, serotonin is mainly concerned with the contraction of the smooth muscle in the bowel wall. The exact mechanism is not known but serotonin receptors are thought not to function properly in IBS.


Other sources of information for these topics.

About Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Reliable information and support from IFFGD about characteristics and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Self Help and Support Group
Dedicated to helping sufferers, who are living with IBS, manage their own health with IBS since 1987. This IBS Support Group website, an Irritable Bowel ...

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