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The Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be a debilitating condition which can cause a number of different symptoms. Interestingly, with the range of symptoms that can manifest due to complications within the intestines, medical experts felt compelled to form a list of common symptoms (known as the Rome III criteria) that could be used to distinguish cases of IBS. Patients may have a differing variety of these symptoms, but it will help doctors make a more accurate diagnosis.

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A patient will meet the Rome III criteria for IBS if their symptoms manifested at least six months prior to their check-up, they have been experiencing abdominal pain or any notable discomfort for at least three days a month for the last three months, and they have experienced at least two of the following:

  • Some pain that has coincided with an alteration in appearance or consistency of their stool.
  • Pain relief following a bowel movement.
  • Pain linked to changes in how often they have a bowel movement.

Bowel Movement Patterns

For people who develop IBS, their normal pattern of bowel movements may begin to change over time. In fact, health care officials have noted that two or more of the following could take place as a result of IBS:

  • The patient’s bowel movements begin to differ in size and consistency (could be hard and small, loose and watery, or very thin).
  • IBS patients may experience bowel movements more often (diarrhea) or less often (constipation) than what they are used to. This could range from experiencing less than 3 bowel movements in a week or more than 3 movements in a single day.
  • Patients could experience an unusual feeling of gas buildup or bloating in the intestinal tract.
  • Their stool is not passed in the same way. In other words, they may find themselves with the sudden urge to visit the bathroom, straining during the bowel movement, or they may feel like they have experienced an uncompleted movement.

More Intestinal Symptoms

There are some people who could experience a lower level of abdominal pain accompanied by constipation. These symptoms are then followed by periods of diarrhea. On the other hand, some people who have been diagnosed with IBS may experience some pain and mild constipation but no diarrhea. Further symptoms that have been associated with IBS also include the presence of mucus in bowel movements and intestinal gas.

Non-gastrointestinal Symptoms

There are other symptoms that have been linked to irritable bowel syndrome, but these do not directly affect the patient’s intestines. Doctors will be on the lookout for patients who are presenting with:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Headaches or backaches
  • Insomnia or other sleeping complications not caused by symptoms of IBS.
  • An unpleasant taste in their mouth.
  • Heart palpitations (that feeling where the heart flutters or skips a beat).
  • Sexual issues, such as reduced sex drive or pain during intercourse.
  • Urinary symptoms (trouble commencing the urine stream, incontinence, and trouble emptying the bladder).

These symptoms could manifest following a meal, if you are particularly stressed out, or during menstruation. Please remember that there are many other medical conditions that could cause symptoms similar to IBS. So, it is very important to go see your doctor if you believe that you or a loved one have been experiencing any of these symptoms.