IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), also called as spastic colon is a collection of symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort & pain, and cramping. Though many experts say that it is less severe than other serious digestive diseases (such as IBD or ulcerative colitis) but it can be a very frustrating condition. How does it start and how long it last?
In general, spastic colon is not categorized into serious health condition. Even there is no specific test to help doctor diagnose it. It also doesn’t cause other serious health conditions, such as permanent damage to the bowel or colon cancer. But it takes attention since it can be very bothersome.
Unfortunately, experts still don’t have a clearly answer for the exact cause of this digestive problem. In other words, it is still not clear yet why it occurs.
In a few cases of this syndrome, it occurs after certain infection affecting the intestines. In such case, this is also called as post-infectious IBS.
It seems there are a number of reasons that can lead to the development of irritable bowel syndrome.
Studies have confirmed that there is a link between the gut /intestines and the brain. Probably, there is the wrong way of message from the brain sent to the intestines. This malfunction message may affect the way of the bowel to work.
Stress management is also important for patients with the syndrome. If you have IBS and you lose control on your stress, the symptoms are likely to flare up and get worse in time.
During stress, the nerve can be more active than normal. This may make the intestines become contract (squeeze) more and also become more sensitive to foods that move through the tract of your intestines.
While the exact cause of the syndrome still remains puzzling, some statistics and studies have confirmed risk factors of IBS. In general, you are likely to have it if:
- You have a first-degree relative (such as mother, father, sister, or brother) who has spastic colon. In other words, it runs in the family. However, having a genetic trait doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop the same problem. But your risk is relatively higher than others without a family history of the same condition.
- The age! In fact, spastic colon can occur at any age. But it is more common in people of early adulthood or teen years. Some studies confirm that is more likely to occur before the age of 35.
- Gender. Generally speaking, women are 2 times more likely to the condition than men!
Irritable bowel syndrome is common in the U.S — about 1 out of every 6 people in this country have it, according to the National Institutes of Health! Even it is the top leading cause of digestive problem that makes patients to be referred to a gastroenterologist (a bowel specialist).
Unfortunately, doctors often say that IBS cannot be cured completely – though there are also few people who claim that they can get rid of IBS. In other words, the goal of treatment is commonly focused to control and relieve the symptoms.
This disorder may be a lifelong condition (chronic). Therefore, doctors often don’t have the answer with certainty about how long it lasts!
For some people with IBS, the symptoms may only flare up for only a few weeks then subside and disappear for a while. For others, the symptoms are probably present for most of time.
Nevertheless, most patients can find ways of living with this syndrome, though it’s not always easy to deal with.