Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a recurrent chronic digestive functional disorder, characterized by distension (bloating caused by abdominal distention, gas or meteorism), abdominal pain, which is the main symptom and is usually relieved after bowel movements; and altered bowel habits (changes in frequency and/or consistency of the stool) in the absence of an organic disease. Its prevalence has increased over time, it is seen as frequently in adults as in children, and the symptoms have a significant impact on quality of life.
Multiple psychopathological factors come into play, such as altered gastrointestinal motility, visceral sensitivity, changes in the intestinal microbiota, sensitivity to certain foods, and psychological and/or emotional alterations (stress, for example, plays a causal or exacerbating role in irritable bowel syndrome and its symptoms).
An irritable bowel is mistakenly believed to be the same thing as a swollen bowel, and there is no specific analysis or test to pinpoint the condition. It is diagnosed clinically by carrying out an exhaustive medical history and physical examination, ruling out infections and organic diseases using the relevant analytical tests, to assure patients that there is no underlying organic pathology (fearful thoughts of being ill can act as a trigger for symptoms of constant irritable bowel syndrome).
A good relationship needs to be established between doctor and patient, as well as with the relatives, in order for treatment to be optimal; and a successful outcome depends largely on this. Different therapeutic options include dietary treatment (remember that there are no prohibited foods, and instead each person must learn how to identify the foods that exacerbate their symptoms, and then exclude them from their diet). Although drugs cannot cure this disease, there are drugs to treat each symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (such as constipation, diarrhea or abdominal pain), as well as a psychosocial approach. Once diagnosed, the patient is informed that that this is a lifelong condition, that symptoms will not always be present, and that they will instead fluctuate over time; mainly putting their minds at ease that it is a benign condition.
Recommendations are to eat more frequently in smaller portions, at established times, as well as to chew food well and eat while you are relaxed. When faced with stressful situations, we can look for alternatives such as activities that relax or relieve stress, and more importantly to seek medical help and not to self-medicate.