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People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome have to live with the fact that it is usually not possible to determine clinical findings for their symptoms. Nevertheless, irritable bowel syndrome causes symptoms that often restrict the everyday life of those affected. The symptoms can vary, but some symptoms are particularly frequent. Based on the frequency and distribution of typical symptoms, it is possible to identify certain types of irritable bowel syndrome.
How irritable bowel syndrome manifests itself
15 to 20 percent of the population in western industrialized countries are familiar with typical symptoms caused by irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms are more severe in some cases and less severe in others. Particularly frequently affected people suffer from:
- abdominal pain
- a bloating belly (meteorism) and flatulences
- feeling of fullness
- stool irregularities such as constipation or diarrhoea
- strong urge to stool
Nonspecific abdominal pain is one of the typical signs of irritable bowel syndrome. They rarely occur selectively, but usually affect the entire abdominal cavity. The intensity of pain can vary depending on the time of day and increase after meals. Daily and weekly fluctuations are also normal. As with other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, no immediate organic cause can be found for abdominal pain. Doctors therefore suspect a predisposition to so-called visceral hypersensitivity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. This means that the sensitivity of the intestine to pain is increased, so that those affected, for example, already perceive normal amounts of gas in the intestine as pressure pain.
Bloating and flatulences
The cause of abdominal pain is often a flatulence, which often occurs in irritable bowel syndrome. A certain amount of intestinal gases is normal – they are produced during digestion, for example, or are released into the gastrointestinal tract by carbonated drinks and accidental swallowing of air. However, if there is a strong gas development and increased outflow of intestinal gases, this is a typical symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.
Feeling of fullness
Even small portions often have a big effect on irritable bowel syndrome: Feeling full even after low food intake is one of the most common signs of irritable bowel syndrome and is often due to increased gas development. It can help if you remove raw onions, legumes and other hard-to-digest, bloating foods from your diet. In any case, an appropriate diet plays an important role in alleviating irritable bowel symptoms.
The frequency of the bowel movement is very individual, but for most people it is settling down once or twice a day. If the frequency deviates strongly downwards or upwards, it is either called constipation or diarrhoea . Constipation is usually accompanied by very hard stools, whereas diarrhoea is usually mushy or diluted.
Strong urge to stool
Another known symptom of irritable bowel syndrome is the urge to go to the toilet several times a day. Often this increased urge to stool is accompanied by a feeling of pressure and abdominal pain. Sometimes the feeling that it is not possible to empty the intestines properly makes things more difficult.
The different irritable bowel types
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are thus broadly diversified – in those affected, they are usually very differently pronounced. Often, however, a central leading symptom can be identified.
The pain type is characterized primarily by cramps and pain in the gastrointestinal tract without any significant changes in stool.
The gas type suffers mainly from unusually strong gas development in the intestine.
The constipation type has a reduced stool frequency as its main symptom – especially women are affected.
The Diarrhea type has mostly diarrhoea.
Mixed forms between the different types are also possible.
Peculiarities of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Identifying signs correctly
Basically, irritable bowel syndrome and its symptoms manifest themselves differently in each individual. In addition, they are easily confused with the signs of other diseases – so if you suffer from new digestive problems, you should always have your symptoms checked by a doctor . However, there are some typical indications that the predominant symptoms are those of irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disease with chronic course. This means that the symptoms usually persist for at least three months. Many patients are accompanied by their nervous intestines for the rest of their lives. It is typical, however, that the intensity of the symptoms fluctuates: Often weeks and months go by almost symptom-free until the irritable bowel becomes noticeable again. In particular stress and psychological stress are regarded as catalysts for the complaints.
This is also supported by the fact that many patients only have to struggle with symptoms such as diarrhoea or abdominal pain when awake – in contrast, the intestines can calm down during sleep. This is due to the so-called microbial gut-brain axis: The central nervous system, the intestinal nervous system and the intestinal flora are related to one another and influence each other.
For example, the symptoms can be triggered by an unbalanced intestinal flora. A stool examination in the laboratory can give an indication of this. Using INTEST.pro from BIOMES you can perform this test comfortably at home and then send in your stool sample by mail.
Psychological symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Due to this connection between brain and intestine, irritable bowel syndrome can also have an effect on the psyche . Particularly frequently to be observed are:
- Sleep or concentration disorders
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Depressive mood
- Anxiety disorders
- Diffuse headache and aching joints without acute organic cause
It is therefore important to treat irritable bowel syndrome holistically and not just to fight physical complaints. For example, meditation and autogenic training can effectively reduce stress and anxiety and thus have a positive effect on the physical symptoms of a nervous bowel.