Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder in the body that affects the digestive system, particularly the large intestine or the colon, which is assigned to regulate and man over the excretion of solid wastes of the body.
Although it may not seem true, irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common diagnosed functional problems in the body. In the country alone, one out of five people are afflicted with the problem. This translates to about 20 percent of Americans. Still, little is known about the problem. Unlike other disorders that have already had awareness campaigns, irritable bowel syndrome still remain under the shadows. There is a lot of confusion as to how it starts and if a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is appropriate.
What is doubly hard for this problem is the fact that there are no laboratory tests that can confirm the presence of irritable bowel syndrome. Diagnosis as mentioned before is solely dependent on the examination and study of the symptoms based on the account of the patient as well as on the medical history. Unlike other diseases that are directly caused by bacteria, virus and other organisms, irritable bowel syndrome has no known organic cause. Indirect causes or factors that may trigger the problem include stress, food items that may serve as irritant in the colon as well as milk products.
The numbers of cases of irritable bowel syndrome can actually even grow further as most people who have the problem do not even know that they have the problem. This is perhaps because of the fact that most of its symptoms are similar to symptoms of other body disorders. There is actually no distinctive symptom. This also the reason why it is classified under the term syndrome. Because there is a clear lack of a symptom that will differentiate it from other problems, diagnosis will depend on a set of symptoms that must be present. But what are the symptoms?
One of the main symptoms that doctors often watch out for in irritable bowel syndrome is the abdominal pain. This is actually one of the differentiating factors that doctors use to make a conclusion or final diagnosis. According to the Rome II Diagnostic Criteria, which is often used in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms include abdominal pain and discomfort episodes that may last for about 12 months.