What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

According to Reuter’s Press, Los Angeles (2001, December 13), “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (is) a chronic condition believed to plague 20% of the adult (US) population”.IBS is a very common disorder that affects the functioning of the bowel. Although the severity of the condition (also occasionally referred to as spastic colon) can vary considerably from one patient to another, typical characteristics include changes in bowel habits ranging from diarrhea to constipation, cramp-like pains, bloating and a feeling of “gassiness.”

For some sufferers, IBS is little more than a minor inconvenience; for others it can be totally disabling. In extreme cases, the patient is unable to travel, function in the workplace or enjoy socializing.Картинки по запросу Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What It is Not: Some Common Misconceptions

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not:
bullet
 an imaginary disease.
Far from it! IBS has biological causes and
biological symptoms and is certainly not a condition that is “all in your mind.”
bullet caused by other diseases such as gallstones or ulcers.
bullet an infection, although it can sometimes be triggered by a bout of gastroenteritis or similar digestive system disorders.
bullet hereditary.
bullet a precursor to cancer.

How Does IBS Differ from Other Gastrointestinal Disorders?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a recognized condition in its own right and should not be confused with other digestive system disorders.
Historically referred to as spastic colon, nervous colon, unstable colon, spastic bowel, colitis, mucous colitis or functional bowel disease, most of these terms are rarely used any more because they are inaccurate.

Avoid Confusion!
Don’t confuse colitis with IBS: the two conditions are very different! Colitis refers to inflammation of the colon (large intestine), whereas IBS doesn’t cause inflammation.

Who’s at Risk and How Common is It?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
bulletIs particularly prevalent throughout developed countries
bulletoccurs more often in women than men (studies in Canada and the US indicate a female to male ratio of 2 to 1), although women in Western countries are more likely to consult a physician than men
bulletcan occur at any age, but onset is most common between the ages of fifteen and forty
bulletis less likely to afflict older people, and the intensity of symptoms may abate with age.

Seeking Medical Intervention for IBS: The Great Male-Female Divide

A recent study by W. Grant Thompson, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, revealed that, in North America, men suffering from IBS are less likely than women to seek specialist help for their condition.

The converse, however, is true of Eastern countries, with the number of men seeking medical help for the disorder outnumbering women by approximately four to one. This discrepancy, he contends, is largely attributable to cultural differences.

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