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Irritable colon syndrome - What it is

The irritable colon syndrome is one of the most frequent intestinal disorders, usually more common in women than men.

 

The irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a very common and, in some cases, disabling chronic disorder which affects about 10-15% of the population, women more than men, with a higher occurence amongst those aged between 20 and 50.

The IBS affects the colon and the small intestine; it occurs when the brain abnormally interacts with the intestine. This results in alterations that can produce abdominal pain, swelling or deviations in normal intestinal functions; 60% of patients also complain about weakness and fatigue.

The syndrome has floating traits, and it has become clear that the acute exacerbation of symptoms coincide with physical (surgical operations) or psychological (stress, separations) stressful events.

The causes

Researchers haven't spotted a specific cause yet, but they believe multiple factors are involved in the occurence of the irritable bowel syndrome, including:

  • psychosocial factors (stressful repetitive and chronic events)
  • biological factors (individual predisposition and susceptibility, bacterial flora and intestinal infections)

In addition to these, there are food intolerances and allergies and the chronic use of medicines (antiinflammatories, antibiotics) which can determine and perpetuate the presence of symptoms.

The symptoms

According to Rome Criteria II, in order to pursue a correct diagnosis of the Irritable bowel syndrome, patients must continuously show - for at least 3 months in the last year - at least three of the folllowing symptoms:

  • Intestinal pain or discomfort
  • Variations of the frequency and consistency of fecal matter (more than three times a day and less than three times a week)
  • Difficulty in defecation
  • Abdominal distension or swelling
  • Passage of mucus in fecal matter
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