There is no known cause for irritable bowel syndrome which is also known as IBS or spastic colon. As the name suggests, this condition is characterized by irritation or pain in the bowels which might be accompanied by diarrhea, constipation or both. IBS is broadly categorized into two specific groups – it can be either diarrhea-predominant or constipation-predominant.
The basic symptoms of IBS are discomfort or pain in the abdominal area, accompanied by constipation or diarrhea. A change in the bowel pattern is usually noticed. Urgent bowel movements may be experienced along with the feeling of insufficient evacuation of stools.
No specific tests exist for the detection of irritable bowel syndrome. It is identified through “diagnosis of exclusion”, which is fundamentally a process of elimination. Tests are conducted to rule out parasitic or bacterial infestation of the intestines. Celiac disease and lactose intolerance also needs to be ruled out, after which IBS can be confirmed. The associated tests include blood and stool examination, abdominal ultrasound, endoscopy and hydrogen breath testing.
IBS is usually treated therapeutically. Fiber, peppermint oil and antispasmodics have been found to be effective in treating this condition. Other remedies include diet control and monitoring of existing medication. There are also quite a few alternative medicine techniques which have met with modest success such as herbal remedies, yoga and acupuncture.
IBS does not pose a threat to life. Nor does it adversely affect the quality of life if treated promptly and effectively. As this disease tends to occur in bouts, the best way of alleviating symptoms is through prevention.
Occurrence or recurrence of IBS can be avoided through dietary measures. A balanced diet of food that is moderately spiced with minimal oil and salt can contribute to the long-term control of this condition. One should also eat at the right time and at a comfortable pace. Drinking plenty of water helps and caffeinated drinks should be avoided. Consumption of alcohol should also be avoided.
There is no specific figure for treatment of IBS. This can vary from $100.00 $500.00 per month depending on the severity and frequency of the condition.