There it is again — those stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloated belly and that rush-to-the-bathroom feeling. It’s uncomfortable, embarrassing and sometimes actually painful. The good news is it has a name and it is not an uncommon experience. If these feelings are familiar to you, you’ll need to know what IBS is — exactly.
IBS is a disorder of the large intestine. The colon’s job is to absorb nutrients and water from the food and drink you intake each day. Any remainder is considered body waste and is slowly moved out of the body naturally, through the contractions of the muscles of the intestines. Sometimes the process does not work perfectly — the muscle contractions are not coordinated with the rest of the body, or the contractions aren’t the right speed or are interrupted. In this case, the elimination of waste is stopped and this is where the problem of IBS can arise.
Waste interruption can bring on IBS symptoms. The improper digestion and elimination of waste can lead to uncomfortable problems. If the body is stopped from its natural process of elimination, waste material remains trapped in the colon and causes gas, bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhea. If this occurs episodically, it could mean you have irritable bowel syndrome. Since symptoms of IBS are different for each person and vary widely from episode to episode, you will need a proper diagnosis in order to start treatment. Check with your doctor if you think this may be happening to you. Swift intervention by a qualified physician can keep symptoms in check and prevent a more chronic and serious case of IBS from developing.
IBS is very common. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, people who suffer from IBS may have a sensitive colon that reacts to certain foods or stress in this manner. IBS may also be an immune response. Approximately one in five adults in America today has symptoms associated with IBS, and it is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders. While the exact mechanism that causes IBS is unknown, it may be comforting to understand how many others also have the disorder.