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    IBS is a disorder affecting approximately 20% of the population. In its mildest cases, IBS can frustrate patients and cause anxiety. In severe cases, it can totally affect a patient's life, limiting their activities, causing them to quit their jobs, and prompting a reclusive lifestyle.

    Irritable bowel syndrome is not a disease. In fact, although the problem occurs in the patient's intestine, there is no obvious reason for the disorder. Affected patients have not suffered damage to the intestine and have no apparent intestinal abnormalities. This is the key reason why doctors have yet to identify a true cause for the disorder.

    Many people think that IBS is synonymous with diarrhea. While some IBS patients do exhibit diarrhea, this is not the only symptom of IBS. This disorder is often accompanied by other bothersome issues like pain and discomfort in the abdomen, retention of water, and changes in bowel movements. Those changes can come in either the form of diarrhea or constipation. Some patients alternate between the two. The severity of a patient's symptoms dictates how much their lives are affected. From missing school, work, or staying at home for fear of IBS episodes, it is easy to see why IBS is such a serious disorder for the patients it affects.

    The first type of IBS is IBS-A. Patients suffering from IBS-A do not have consistent symptoms. In fact, on some days, an IBS-A patient may suffer from bloating and constipation. On other days, that same patient will suffer from diarrhea.

    Unlike IBS-A, IBS-C patients are usually constipated. They suffer from a bloated feeling and often stomach pains. The main characteristic of this type of IBS is that the patient is often constipated. Patients usually experience these symptoms at least twelve weeks a year. Different from chronic constipation, this is truly a painful disorder.

    Then there's IBS-D. Patients with IBS-D suffer from diarrhea. When they become particularly nervous or upset, it can spark an IBS episode. By the same token, an IBS-D patient may find that certain foods bring on these episodes. Depending on the severity of the disorder, patients can truly be devastated by this type of the disorder. More common in men than women, often patients have a fear of eating out in restaurants since they often feel the affects of the food immediately via irrepressible diarrhea.

    If you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of IBS, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis. A doctor can't immediately label you as an IBS patient since there is no clear-cut evidence of the disorder to be found. Through a series of tests, a thorough examination of your history of symptoms, and the ruling out of other conditions, a doctor can then make a diagnosis. With technology and pharmaceutical aids advancing each year, there are more options than ever for patients suffering from IBS. Talk to your doctor about ways you can take control of IBS so it doesn't control your life.

    Susan Reynolds has an interest in IBS. For further information on IBS please visit www.natural-irritable-bowel-syndrome-relief.com/ibs.html or www.natural-irritable-bowel-syndrome-relief.com/blog/2006/09/01/symptoms-of-ibs/ .

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