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Irritable bowel syndrome (functional bowel)
Alternative namesPylorospasm; Nervous indigestion; Spastic colon; Intestinal neurosis; Functional colitis; Irritable colon; Mucous colitis; Laxative colitis; Functional dyspepsia
DefinitionIrritable bowel syndrome includes a group of gastrointestinal symptoms for which a cause is not known. The symptoms are often worsened by emotional stress .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by a combination of abdominal pain and altered bowel function. There are many possible causes. For instance, there may be a disturbance in the muscle movement of the intestine or a lower tolerance for stretching and movement of the intestine. There is no abnormality in the structure of the intestine.
The condition occurs more frequently in women and usually begins between the ages of 20 and 30. Predisposing factors may be a low-fiber diet, emotional stress, and use of laxatives.
Irritable bowel syndrome is extremely common, but only a small proportion of people seek treatment.
Signs and tests
The objective of treatment is to relieve symptoms. Changes in diet may help alleviate symptoms in some patients. No diet is applicable to all patients.
Increasing dietary fiber and eliminating gastrointestinal stimulants such as caffeine may be beneficial. Other possible treatment may include:
A medication called Tegaserod is available for patients with constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Your doctor can decide if this medication is appropriate for you.
Irritable bowel syndrome may be a life-long chronic condition, but symptoms can often be improved or relieved through treatment.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if you have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or if you notice a persistent change in your bowel habits.
Update Date: 11/7/2002Jenifer K. Lehrer, M.D., Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT