November 01, 2014

Irritable bowel syndrome

New approaches for relief

Irritable bowel syndrome

The meal was delicious, but it was difficult to enjoy because you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and you knew what was coming next. Sure enough, the familiar rumblings in your gut begin, and soon you're dealing with cramps that only go away after a bout of diarrhea. On other occasions, you find yourself dealing with a bloated feeling and constipation.

IBS is a disorder affecting the large intestine (colon), and it's a frustrating and very common problem. Relief can often be found by taking a diligent approach to lifestyle modification and discovering and avoiding dietary or emotional triggers. Researchers continue to find links between certain triggers and signs and symptoms in some people, offering new routes to relief.

Double trouble

IBS is a chronic condition characterized by abdominal pain that occurs before or along with diarrhea or constipation. The diarrhea or constipation can lead to other signs and symptoms, such as excessive gas, bloating and mucus in stool, and often eases after a bowel movement.

But the overall range of signs and symptoms that occur with IBS can vary widely. Some people have diarrhea more often, some have constipation more often, and some have more of an even mix between occurrences of the two conditions. Most people with IBS have milder signs and symptoms, but in some people they can be severe enough to be disabling.

For many people, flares of diarrhea may last for a few days, followed by periods of remission. Constipation may last for...