Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal or bowel disorder featuring recurrent abdominal pain with diarrhoea or constipation. In Singapore, almost one in ten people suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS tends to affect more women than men. It can occur at almost any age but IBS tends to occur most frequently for adults in their 30s and 40s.
For people with IBS, their gut motility and function are affected. Symptoms of IBS can vary, with some having diarrhoea while others are constipated. There can also be cases of IBS where patients experience both diarrhoea and constipation alternatively.
Read on to learn more about the triggers and preventive measures for IBS.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome vary between affected individuals. Your symptoms can range from mild to severe, and these include:
For more serious cases, some other ‘red warning’ signs may be observed:
It is important to get evaluated by your doctor and seek medical treatment in time if the above symptoms do not go away.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be categorised based on the type of bowel movements you have:
Read on to learn more about each IBS types:
One of the most frequent types of IBS is IBS with constipation, or also known as IBS-C. Symptoms of IBS-C include abdominal pain and discomfort, along with changes in bowel function. Bloating and/or gas may also happen.
You may find yourself straining, with infrequent stools, hard or lumpy stools, and/or a feeling that the bowel does not empty completely. With IBS-C, abdominal discomfort often improves after a bowel movement.
IBS-D, or IBS with diarrhoea, is another type of IBS. In contrast to IBS-C, IBS-D causes the opposite problem.
For those experiencing IBS-D, stools are usually loose and frequent.
You may also experience abdominal pain that comes and goes, which often improves after having a bowel movement. Excessive gas is also a regular occurrence.
If you have alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea, you may be experiencing IBS with Mixed Bowel Habits, also known as IBS-M.
IBS-M shares the same symptoms of both IBS with constipation (IBS-C) and IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D). The only difference with IBS-M is that these symptoms alternate.
Many people with IBS also have non-gastrointestinal symptoms. These include fatigue, muscle pain, sexual dysfunctions, and sleep disturbances, often overlapping with other conditions.
Be sure to speak to your doctor for evaluation and accurate diagnosis of your condition.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be a frustrating diagnosis, where patients experience belly pain and cramping, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, and gas – all of which can be hard to manage.
While stress, medications, and monthly periods can be major triggers, so can the foods you eat. Understanding more about these potential food triggers and how to avoid them will help you make smart meal choices, so you have fewer IBS flare-ups.
Anxiety and stress may be sources of triggers for IBS. These can stem from daily life such as work or familial issues.
To manage anxiety and stress, make healthy behaviours a priority. Consume a well-balanced, IBS-friendly diet. Get enough sleep and exercise regularly. As often as possible, do something enjoyable.
Some medications trigger IBS in people. Here is a list of what may trouble those afflicted with IBS:
To manage this, you can consult your doctor about switching to a medication that won’t exacerbate your symptoms. However, consult with them before discontinuing your medication. Antidepressants should be chosen with caution. Consult your doctor concerning antidepressants.
Symptoms of IBS are often exacerbated during a woman’s menstruation. You won’t be able to prevent it, but you will be able to alleviate pain and discomfort throughout that time of the month.
Managing IBS symptoms during your period follows the same steps for treating your IBS symptoms at any other time. Some examples to manage IBS during menstruation include:
You should also stick with the medications your doctor recommends or has prescribed you.
Other triggers of IBS may include:
Manage the above triggers by removing any distractions when eating, in addition to obtaining at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Simple lifestyle changes like these can aid in the prevention of constipation and the reduction of tension in your body.
IBS is a chronic disease that requires long-term management. With appropriate intervention and measures put in place, IBS can be managed well.
At SOG, we would be able to assist you with the help of our experienced colorectal specialist Dr. Sim Hsien Lin.
Consultant General Surgeon (Colorectal Surgery)