The Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disease which can produce a wide variety of symptoms. In fact, it is for that reason that health care officials chose to compile a list of symptoms that could be used to diagnose new cases of IBS. The Rome III criteria has proven to be quite beneficial for doctors looking to make their diagnosis, as patients could be experiencing a range of different symptoms from case to case.
The Rome III criteria for irritable bowel syndrome are met only if the patient has been experiencing abdominal pain or discomfort for at least three days a month over the last three months, their symptoms have been present for at least six months prior to seeking medical attention, and they have experienced any two of the following:
- Notable pain relief following a bowel movement
- Pain coinciding with a change in the appearance or consistency of the stool
- Pain coinciding with alterations in normal bowel habits
Changes in Bowel Movement Patterns
If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may experience significant changes in the patterns of your bowel movements over time. Health care experts note that any of the following could occur as a result of IBS:
- May experience alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation. At some points, you may have more than 3 movements in a day or you could have less than 3 movements in a single week.
- Bowel movements begin to change in appearance and consistency (ranging from loose and watery, hard and small, or very thin).
- Unusual sensation of bloating or gas buildup in the intestinal tract that could become quite uncomfortable.
- Stool is not passing in quite the same way. IBS patients may experience sudden urges to use the bathroom, difficulties passing stool, and experiencing the feeling of an uncomplete movement.
Other Symptoms of IBS
Some people may have some minimal abdominal pain or discomfort that is accompanied by constipation. These periods are then followed by bouts of diarrhea. Then again, other patients with IBS have the pain and mild constipation, but this is not followed by diarrhea. Other symptoms that have been linked to irritable bowel syndrome include excessive levels of intestinal gas and the presence of mucus following a bowel movement.
Some symptoms that could be caused by IBS do not have anything to do with the patient’s intestinal tract. Health care providers will also be looking for any of the following when making their diagnosis:
- Depression or anxiety
- Back aches or headaches
- Insomnia or sleep complications not directly caused by other IBS symptoms
- A foul taste in the mouth
- Sexual dysfunction, such as pain during intercourse or reduced sex drive
- Heart palpitations
- Urinary tract complications (including incontinence, starting to urinate, and trouble fully emptying the bladder)
Any of the symptoms that are associated with IBS could manifest after eating, when stress levels are high, or during menstruation. It is important to note that many of these symptoms could be caused by some other medical condition (Crohn’s disease can cause similar symptoms). If you have experienced any of these indications, then you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.