Abdominal pain, bloatedness, and discomfort are the key symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Having said that, symptoms can vary from person to person.
What Are the Symptoms of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Some individuals have constipation, which means hard, difficult to pass, or infrequent bowel movements. When trying to move their bowels, persons who are constipated generally strain hard and experience cramping, but the end result is that they are only able to release a small amount of stool, if any at all. If bowel movement does take place, mucus, a fluid that serves to keep the passages in the digestive system moist and protected, is often present.
Conversely, people who suffer from IBS may also experience diarrhea, where the person has loose, watery stools, and too-frequent bowel movements, as compared to constipation. People with diarrhea frequently feel an urgent and uncontrollable need to have a bowel movement.
Alternating Between Diarrhea and Constipation
Other people with IBS alternate between constipation and diarrhea. Sometimes people find that their symptoms subside for a few months and then return, while others report a constant worsening of symptoms over time.
Because IBS is a problem with the colon, and the colon removes water from unprocessed food waste, it is common for people with the condition to be constipated or have diarrhea. Constipation takes place when the food waste stays in the body’s colon for longer than the usual time, absorbing a lot of water, and thereby hardening the stool and making it difficult to pass. If the muscles in the colon move the contents along too fast, though, the colon does not have a chance to remove enough fluid, so the person gets diarrhea.
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are likely to be recurring, which means that a person will have bouts of symptoms on an ongoing basis as opposed to just once or twice a year. People with IBS often notice their symptoms
intesify at certain times. For many, they notice this after consuming large amounts of food, while for others, constant pressure or stress leads to the more severe attacks. Some women notice that they get symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome around the time of their monthly periods.
Abdominal pain or discomfort is the key symptom of IBS. This is not to say however, that if you experience stomach aches or bloating occasionally, you are experiencing irritable bowel syndrome. In general, persons diagnosed with IBS show two or more of the symptoms in the list below:
- Pain or discomfort that is relieved when a person goes to the bathroom and has a bowel movement
- Abdominal pain or discomfort that usually comes when a person unconsciously changes bowel movement routines
- Abdominal ache or discomfort that comes with changes in a person’s stool appearance. For those who are constipated, stools become dry and harder to pass, while those experiencing diarrhea have loose, watery stool.
If a person exhibits just one of the above symptoms, it’s not likely that he is experiencing IBS.
Also, the following symptoms are not usually indicative of irritable bowel syndrome:
- Blood in stools or urine
- Abdominal pain or diarrhea so severe that it disturbs a person’s sleep
- Weight loss