Irritable Bowel Syndrome and its multitude of gastrointestinal symptoms plague 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population, or between 25 and 48 million people.
The medical condition affects more women than men and, although it affects all ages, most people diagnosed are under age 50, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
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Doctors have not determined exactly what causes IBS, but IFFGD said it has "well-defined clinical features" and "specific diagnostic criteria."
The primary symptoms of IBS are:
1. Abdominal pain or discomfort – "The hallmark of the diagnosis is that the abdominal pain is improved by a bowel movement and is associated with a change in bowel habit," IFFGD said. "This means that the frequency or consistency of stools – either diarrhea or constipation – changes when the pain occurs."
2. Diarrhea and/or
Other symptoms may occur or be a problem for people with IBS, IFFGD said:
4. Fibromyalgia (muscle aching)
6. Dyspepsia (upper abdominal discomfort or pain)
7. Chest pain
8. Urinary or gynecological symptoms
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According to IFFGD, most doctors use universal criteria, called the Rome Diagnostic Criteria and the Manning Criteria, to determine functional gastrointestinal problems, which includes IBS. With Rome criteria, a patient must experience abdominal pain or discomfort for at least three days a month for the preceding three months, with symptoms overall reported for at least six months.
Manning criteria "focus on pain relieved by defecation, having incomplete bowel movements, mucus in the stool and changes in stool consistency. The more symptoms present, the greater the likelihood of IBS," The Mayo Clinic said
Although not considered "symptoms" of IBS to be used for diagnosis, WebMD said
studies show that between 54 percent and 94 percent of people who have IBS have a psychiatric disorder, including depression and anxiety disorders.
"As far as scientists know, IBS does not cause depression, nor does depression cause IBS. Together, however, they can wreak havoc on a person's life," the medical website said.
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