Is your indigestion a sign of something more? Here are 10 symptoms of IBS to look out for.
Suffering from a gastrointestinal problem–be it constipation, diarrhoea, or excessive gas–is no walk in the park. To make matters worse, it isn’t exactly an easy topic to bring up at the dinner table. Can you imagine discussing your bowel movement to your brother- or sister-in-law over Sunday Roast? You’re probably already trembling from thinking of the awkward silence and shifty side glances. As a result, there’s no way to know if what you’re experiencing is typical (especially after an indulgent meal) or if you’re suffering from something more–like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Here we look at 10 symptoms of IBS to help you work out what you’re experiencing.
What is IBS?
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Generally, IBS involves abdominal discomfort plus altered bowel movements, but these symptoms can also be accompanied by others that may appear unrelated, like anxiety, depression, and tiredness. More on that below.
#1 – Abdominal pain and cramping
#2 – Gas and bloating
Perhaps the most embarrassing and disturbing symptom of IBS is the uncontrollable gassiness. Publicly passing gas (especially in an otherwise quiet environment) can be downright humiliating. Even though doctors are still trying to figure out the exact reason behind this gassiness, there are 2 popular theories:
- Gut bacteria – The strains of bacteria in the gut, also known as microbiota, may differ in people with IBS compared to a healthy individual. If the ‘bad’ bacteria outnumber the ‘good,’ gassiness can result.
- Slowed passage of waste material – Bowel contractions can be weaker in IBS sufferers. As a result, the passage of waste material in the gut slows and gas becomes trapped. This can then result in increased gassiness.
#3 – Diarrhea
Something worthy to note is that for certain IBS-D sufferers, the urgency is so significant that they may be fearful of, or actually experience, bathroom accidents. This is undoubtedly a significant source of stress.
#4 – Constipation
#5 – Alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation
#6 – Food intolerance
#7 – Anxiety or depression
#8 – Loss of appetite
#9 – Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
#10 – Changes in bowel movements
It can be a serious problem–especially if your stool is black and tarry. That indicates bleeding in the upper part of your digestive tract. Bright red blood or maroon-coloured blood, on the other hand, usually indicates a problem in the lower part of your digestive tract, including haemorrhoids or diverticulitis (infection or inflammation of pouches that can form in your intestines).
Suspect you have IBS?
Did you catch yourself nodding away to most (if not all) of the IBS symptoms listed above? If IBS is adversely impacting your quality of life, you may want to visit a doctor who can help rule out other diseases, diagnose you with IBS–and perhaps most importantly, guide you through the process of identifying your unique triggers and finding ways to alleviate your symptoms. But if after reading this guide to the 10 symptoms of IBS you want to talk to a specialist then we are here. Remember: you don’t have to suffer in silence! Help is readily available.