When it comes to identifying the symptoms of IBS, health professionals tend to point out many that lead to the same diagnosis.
The symptoms being quite large, some of the most common are abdominal or stomach pains, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and cramps.
They usually appear or get worse after a meal or when you want to have bowel movements.
Stress, bad diet, lack of sleep or even changes in gut bacteria may all trigger symptoms.
Let’s have a look at the most common symptoms.
Symptoms of IBS:
Even though the causes of IBS are still not perfectly clear, some recurrent symptoms might want to let you think that you should check with your doctor if you are not suffering from IBS.
- Gas and Bloating:
Many people suffering with IBS will identify bloating as one of the most persistent and nagging symptoms of the disorder.
Altered digestion in IBS leads to more gas production in the gut, causing of course bloating and leading to a sensation of almost permanent discomfort.
2 – Pain and Cramping:
Abdominal pain is the most common symptom and a key factor in diagnosis.
When everything works well, your gut and brain work together to control digestion.
It is called the gut-brain axis.
Via hormones, nerves and signals released by the good bacteria that live in your gut, your brain understands that everything is ok or on the contrary if something is going wrong.
In IBS, these cooperative signals become distorted, leading to uncoordinated and painful tension in the muscles of the digestive tract.
This pain is usually located in the lower abdomen or the entire abdomen but is less likely to be in the upper abdomen alone. Pain typically decreases following a bowel movement.
Constipation-predominant IBS is the most common type, affecting nearly 50% of people with IBS and it is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week.
Altered communication between the brain and bowel may speed up or slow down the normal transit time of stool. When transit time slows, the bowel absorbs more water from the stool and it becomes more difficult to pass.
Constipation in IBS includes abdominal pain that eases with bowel movements and often causes a sensation of an incomplete bowel movement.
Diarrhea-predominant IBS is one of the three main types of the disorder and it affects one-third of patients with IBS.
Stool in the diarrhea-predominant type tends to be loose, watery and may contain mucus
A study of 200 adults found that those with diarrhea-predominant IBS had, on average, 12 bowel movements weekly which is more than twice the amount of adults living without IBS.
Accelerated bowel transit in IBS can also result in a sudden, immediate urge to have a bowel movement. People suffering from this type of IBS often describe this as a significant source of stress, leading them to avoid having a social life for fear of a sudden onset of diarrhea.
It is pretty common for people who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) to also feel fatigue that can be almost permanent in some cases and it is then called CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome).
Fatigue is that state when the body and/or the mind feel exhausted.
This feeling can have several sources, like anxiety, medications, pain, illness.
So how fatigue and IBS are linked?
The colon, inside the digestive system, is the place where the body gets its nutrients from digested food. If the process is not functioning properly, some essential elements that are required by the body are lacking.
Bacteria in the gut can also provide another reason for why IBS causes fatigue.
Of course we are not talking about the goods that are present in the microbiota. Those pathogens are ingested and will put the immune system under stress and cause IBS symptoms.
The other reason for IBS to trigger fatigue is obvious : IBS impacts daily life in such a way that the body responds with fatigue. Sleep deprivation due to IBS is the main explanation, as anxiety linked to the condition, the pain, the discomforts, the urge to go have bowel movements can literally stop the sleep process.
- Intolerance to certain food:
Up to 70% of individuals with IBS report that particular foods will trigger symptoms of IBS.
Two-thirds of people with IBS actively avoid certain foods and sometimes even exclude multiple foods from their diet.
While trigger foods are different for everyone, some common ones include gas-producing foods, such as FODMAPs, as well as wheat, lactose and gluten.
As you can see, there are various symptoms and each individual will experience IBS symptoms differently.
Can IBS symptoms disappear for good?
This is the main question that IBS patients ask when they consult their doctor for the first time about the condition.
“Is this ongoing feeling of bloating and gas going to last?”, “ Am I condemned to an endless life of abdominal pains and cramping”, “Is my social life going to be rythmed by my unpredictable bowel movements?”
From what scientists and doctors know about IBS, the condition is going to be a part of the patient for the rest of his life, but the syndrome can be underlying if managed properly with an appropriate diet, and by avoiding stressful situations or dealing correctly with anxiety.
Thus, unfortunately, IBS becomes a part of patients’ lives that will have to cope with this “companion”.
Any decisions you make must be done in full cooperation with your doctor or a dietician. Don’t modify your diet by yourself to avoid dietary deficiency that could worsen the situation and put your health in greater risks.