Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be an extremely disruptive and uncomfortable intestinal disorder. Often the symptoms can occur quite suddenly and may initially appear to be similar to those of stomach flu or gastrointestinal distress. Irritable bowel syndrome is a distinctly different disorder, however, and may occur for periods of three months or longer. Irritable bowel syndrome can also be an indicator of other conditions such as celiac disease or food allergies to wheat or gluten.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, IBS is a collection of different symptoms that make up the syndrome. For many people with the disorder, the symptoms come and go, depending upon the amount of stress they are undergoing, the foods they are eating and a host of other factors. IBS is characterized by gastrointestinal distress that includes flu like symptoms.
According to WebMD, there are many symptoms of IBS that mimic other disorders. These include frequent diarrhea and/or constipation, abdominal pain, feelings of being bloated and changes in the consistency and appearance of stool. Unlike stomach flu, there is no fever associated with the disorder. Other symptoms of IBS can include muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, backache and insomnia. Joint pain is rarely associated with IBS. The frequency of symptoms is also a major factor in making a diagnosis of IBS. Generally, symptoms should be present for at least three months and occur at least thee times a week at least three times a day or more.
The precise causes of irritable bowel syndrome are not known at this time, according to WebMD. However, in an article published in Medical News Today, one theory is that IBS is related to celiac disease. This is a disorder in which the body is allergic to the glutens found in wheat, rice and other grain products. It is now easy to test for celiac disease with a new finger prick blood test that can be done at home. Symptoms of celiac disease are very similar to those of IBS.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, the treatment for IBS is to reduce stress and to attempt to eat a diet that is rich in dietary fiber. There is no singular treatment for IBS and medications are often directed at relief from symptoms including alleviating abdominal pain and diarrhea and constipation. Most frequently, patients are recommended to reduce their stress levels and eat foods that do not bring on symptoms.
According to Medical News Today, the best prognosis for irritable bowel syndrome sufferers is that the disorder is one that resolves on its own within a matter of time. For many people with this disorder, the discomfort of the condition is substantial and they may have it several times during their life when the IBS symptoms become more significant than at other times. It is recommended that individuals with recurring bouts of IBS be tested for celiac disease.