Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. It is very common, with over 3 million cases reported in the United States each year and 25 million to 45 million people in our country suffering from it. 

What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, as well as altered bowel habits which can include chronic or recurrent diarrhea, chronic or recurrent constipation, or an alternation of each. Some of the most common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include excess abdominal gas, cramping or bloating, indigestion and mucus in the stool.

Most people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome only experience mild symptoms, such as occasional stomach discomfort or pain. Mild bowel habit changes associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome may be simply more or less frequent bowel movements than what is considered normal and/or stools issues, including thinner, softer stools or hard stools. 

The good news is that Irritable Bowel Syndrome and its symptoms aren’t exceedingly dangerous. It won’t lead to more severe conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or colon cancer and it is not life threatening. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can, however, compromise quality of life by affecting many day-to-day activities as well as make it difficult to work during flair-ups…all of which can also lead to depression and/or anxiety.

However, if you experience symptoms which may seem as if they could be related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, such as rectal bleeding, anemia, weight loss, diarrhea at night or persistent pain that is not remedied by releasing gas or emptying bowels, you should immediately consult a physician, as they are more likely not linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and could indicate a much more serious problem, such as colon cancer.

Who is most likely to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome very often first appears in younger people – mostly those in their teens to early forties, and it can last from several years to an entire lifetime. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also found more often in females. 

What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are unknown, but factors found likely to contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome include intestinal inflammation, strong intestinal muscle contractions and cramping, abnormalities within the intestinal nervous system, severe infections such as gastroenteritis or any changes to gut microflora – microorganisms which are naturally present within the digestive tract. 

Two out of three Irritable Bowel Syndrome cases are typically female, most experiencing worsening symptoms during their menstrual periods. This leads researchers to believe that hormonal changes may be a factor susceptibility of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in females at the very least. Family history can also play a role in how likely a person is to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 

How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome prevented, treated and managed?

There is no proven prevention for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but nutrition is an important part of Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptom management. Those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome should obviously avoid foods that trigger episodes, as well as carbonated beverages and alcohol. Also avoid gluten, fructose and lactose. Consuming adequate portions of daily fiber can help. Fiber-rich foods include bran, vegetables such as leafy greens and beans and fruits such as prunes, berries, apples and avocados.

Additionally, there is no known cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but there are also treatments available to help alleviate its sometimes painful and debilitating symptoms. Medication that is currently used to treat the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome includes antidiarrheal drugs for diarrhea; anticholinergics for the relief of intestinal spasms; anticonvulsants for pain and bloating; tricyclic antidepressants for depression and severe pain; and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to relieve depression and pain, as well as constipation. As with anything else, regular exercise, stress management and adequate sleep are also recommended. 

Clinical Trials

Clinical research is also very important in advancements of management, treatment and what may even lead to the prevention and cure of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Velocity Clinical Research, which is currently conducting clinical research studies on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, strives to make the world a better place through groundbreaking clinical research and innovative discoveries that result in better care. 

Would you like to join Velocity Clinical Research in our quest to improve lives through medical advances? You may qualify for study participation if you are between the ages of 18 and 80 and have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, functional dyspepsia or gastritis; or if you experience gastrointestinal symptoms of abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating or feeling full before completing a meal and are unresponsive to medication or diet adjustment.

Eligible study participants may receive payment for time and travel with reimbursement up to $3,900 and free medical care, medical exams and medical supervision. Insurance is not required to participate.

For more information or to find out if you qualify to become a clinical research volunteer, you can reach Velocity Clinical Research by calling 386-428-7730 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can also learn more about the clinical research trials at Velocity Clinical Research by accessing our patient portal which can be found on our website. Velocity Clinical Research is conveniently located at 1410 S. Ridgewood Avenue in Edgewater.