Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
As the name suggests, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a chronic condition which involves abdominal pain, bloating, discomfort and alteration of bowel habits. It is diagnosed clinically and in most cases no specific cause can be identified. Also called as Spastic Colon; Spastic Bowel; Functional Bowel Syndrome or Irritable Colon.
IBS is different from IBD or Irritable Bowel Disease where there is structural damage to the tissue such as in ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
The symptoms of IBS tend to vary from patient to patient, ranging from mild to severe and most commonly include
- abdominal discomfort
- change in bowel habits like constipation or diarrhoea or both alternately
- urgency for stool
- mucus in stools
- incomplete evacuation or unsatisfactory evacuation
- abdominal cramping relieved after passing stool.
IBS Symptoms in Children:
IBS affects more commonly children going to high school as opposed to the younger ones. It affects girls and boys equally.
Symptoms in children vary in frequency and severity and could be amongst the following:
- abdominal pain or cramping of varying intensity
- pain might wake a child from sleep
- appearance of diarrhoea or constipation or both alternately
- change in stool consistency, hard pellet like in constipation or thin and loose in diarrhoea
- mucus in stool
- straining at stool
- sensation as if bowel not completely emptied
- urgency in evacuation of stool, inability to control it
- bloating or full feeling in intestines
- loss of appetite leading to weight loss
IBS Symptoms in Men
Men are less commonly affected as compared to women and studies have also found that symptoms may vary between the two genders.
Apart from the general symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, urgency to stool and altered bowel habits; it has been noted that the following symptoms might NOT be as common in men. These include:
- incomplete evacuation
- mucus in stools
The reason for this could be that men are less sensitive and tend to overlook these symptoms. The other reason could be testosterone which possibly plays a role in IBS.
Symptoms of IBS in Women
Women are much more commonly affected than men with IBS, almost 75% of the population affected with IBS is female and they tend to seek medical advice early as opposed to men.
Symptoms in women are more pronounced as opposed to men probably because women are more sensitive. Apart from the general symptoms the following are specific to females:
- pain in left side of abdomen during sex
- increase in frequency or severity of IBS attacks or symptoms during menstruation
IBS Symptoms in Pregnancy
IBS and pregnancy are related but the outcome cannot be predicted. Some women see a worsening of their symptoms while in some they tend to get better. Also in the same woman the experience might vary between two pregnancies, while in some the severity might not change but the symptoms tend to alternate, like diarrhoea might change into constipation.
IBS Symptoms in Cats
IBS is a common condition in cats just like as in humans and it is called Feline Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Symptoms are similar to those in humans such as:
- constipation characterised by hard, pebble like stools
- diarrhoea seen as soft watery stools
- mucus in stools
- intolerance to certain foods
- loss of appetite
IBS Symptoms in Dogs
- IBS is a very common condition in dogs and affects all breeds alike; it is called as Canine Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The symptoms are identical to those of humans with an added symptom of occasional vomiting.
- There are recurring bouts of diarrhoea with small quantities passed each time and constipation involves excessive straining.