Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Spastic Colon): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a mix of abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any evidence of underlying damage. IBS is a long-lasting problem that may bring lifestyle changes. IBS has been classified depending on whether diarrhea, constipation, or both are common, or do not occur very often. IBS affects the quality of life and may result in missed school or work.

Spastic Colon is a functional gastrointestinal disorder which mainly affects the large intestine. IBS cannot be cured; its symptoms can only be treated. Treatment may include dietary changes, medication, probiotics, and counseling.

About 10-15 percent of people are affected by IBS. Spastic Colon is twice as common in women as in men and typically occurs before 45 years of age. Neither does IBS affect life expectancy nor does it lead to any serious diseases.

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How Does Irritable Bowel Syndrome Affect Your Body?

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may be extremely uncomfortable, but the disorder itself has little impact on the body. It does not lead to inflammation and does not damage the intestines. However, if certain foods are avoided because of irritable bowel syndrome, there can be a dearth of nutrients that are required by the body, further leading to malnourishment.

What Are The Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

  • Muscle contractions in the intestine – The walls of the intestines contract and when they are stronger and last longer than normal, they cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. It can slow food passage and lead to hard and dry stools.
  • Nervous system – Abnormalities in the nerves of the digestive system may cause discomfort when the abdomen stretches from gas or stool. This can cause the body to overreact to changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This results in pain, diarrhea or constipation.
  • Inflammation in the intestines – Patients with IBS have an increased number of immune-system cells in their intestines. This is associated with pain and diarrhea.
  • Severe infection – Spastic Colon can develop after a severe bout of diarrhea caused by bacteria or a virus.
  • Changes in bacteria in the gut – Microflora are the good bacteria that reside in the intestine. According to a study, microflora in people with IBS might differ from microflora in healthy people.
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What Are The Risk Factors of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

  • Age – IBS occurs in younger people. It is more frequently observed in people under the age of 50.
  • Sex – Spastic Colon is more common in women than it is in men.
  • Family history – Genes may play a role in having IBS.
  • Mental health – Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues are associated with this disorder.
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What Are The Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Usual symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain or discomfort, along with frequent diarrhea or constipation, and a change in bowel habits.

People with Spastic Colon have gastroesophageal reflux, symptoms relating to the genitourinary system, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, headache, backache, and psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

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How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed?

  • Rome criteria – This includes abdominal pain and discomfort that lasts at least once a week for a period of three months continuously, along with pain and discomfort related to defecation. The frequency of defecation and the consistency of stool are both altered.
  • Manning criteria – This focuses on the pain relieved by passing stool, incomplete bowel movements, mucus in the stool and changes in stool consistency.

Additional tests are performed after a few symptoms have been observed. These include:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – This helps to examine the lower part of the colon (sigmoid) with a flexible and lighted tube called sigmoidoscope.
  • Colonoscopy – It is a procedure in which a small flexible tube is used to examine the entire length of the colon.
  • X-ray or CT scan – Images produced through these tests are examined to rule out other causes of the symptoms, especially in cases of abdominal pain.
  • Lactose intolerance tests – If the body does not produce lactase (which digests sugar present in dairy products), one may have problems similar to those caused by IBS, including abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea.
  • Breathing test for bacterial overgrowth – This determines if there is bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Bacterial overgrowth is more common amongst people who have had bowel surgery or have diabetes or some other disease that slows down digestion.
  • Upper endoscopy – Endoscopy is done if celiac disease is suspected.
  • Stool tests – These tests are performed to check for bacteria, parasites, or a digestive liquid produced in the liver (bile acid) in case of chronic diarrhea.
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How to Prevent And Control Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

  • Counseling – This helps to modify and change responses to stress. It enables effective ways to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Biofeedback – Electrical sensors help to focus on making subtle changes, such as relaxing certain muscles, to ease symptoms.
  • Progressive relaxation exercises – These exercises help in relaxing muscles in the body, one by one, starting by tightening the muscles in the feet, then concentrating on gradually letting the tension go.
  • Mindfulness training – This stress-reduction technique helps in focusing on being in the moment and letting go of worries and distractions.

Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Allopathic Treatment

Mild symptoms can often be controlled by managing stress and by making changes in the diet and lifestyle. Medications include-

  • Fiber supplements – Taking psyllium (Metamucil) with fluids may help control constipation.
  • Laxatives – Magnesium hydroxide oral (Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia) or polyethylene glycol (Miralax) may be prescribed if fiber does not help in relieving symptoms.
  • Anti-diarrheal medications Loperamide (Imodium) can help in controlling diarrhea. Bile acid binder, such as cholestyramine (Prevalite), colestipol (Colestid) or colesevelam (Welchol), are also prescribed but can cause bloating.
  • Anticholinergic medicationsDicyclomine (Bentyl) can help relieve painful bowel spasms. These medicines are prescribed to people who have bouts of diarrhea.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants – These antidepressants can help relieve depression as well as inhibit the activity of neurons that control the intestines to help reduce pain. They include imipramine (Tofranil), desipramine (Norpramine) or nortriptyline (Pamelor).
  • SSRI antidepressantsFluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) or paroxetine (Paxil), may help those who are depressed, have pain and constipation.
  • Pain medications – Pregabalin (Lyrica) or gabapentin (Neurontin) might help ease severe pain or bloating.
  • Alosetron (Lotronex) – Alosetron helps in relaxing the colon and slowing the movement of waste through the lower bowel.
  • Eluxadoline (Viberzi) – Eluxadoline can ease diarrhea by reducing muscle contractions and fluid secretions in the intestine, and by increasing muscle tone in the rectum.
  • Rifaximin (Xifaxan) – This medicine can decrease bacterial overgrowth and diarrhea.
  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza) – Lubiprostone can increase fluid secretion in the small intestine to help with the passage of stool.
  • Linaclotide (Linzess) – Linaclotide can also increase fluid secretion in the small intestine to help pass stool.

Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Homeopathic Treatment

  • Nux vomica – This medicine is prescribed for abdominal pain and bowel problems accompanied by tension, constricting sensations, chilliness, and irritability.
  • Podophyllum – This is indicated when abdominal pain and cramping with a gurgling, sinking, and an empty feeling are followed by watery, offensive-smelling diarrhea, alternating with constipation, or pasty yellow bowel movements containing mucus.
  • Sulphur – Sulphur is indicated when a  sudden urge towards diarrhea wakes the person early in the morning. The person may, at other times, be constipated, have gas with an offensive and pervasive smell, have poor posture and back pain, and feel worse from standing up too long.
  • Argentum nitricum – This remedy is suggested when the stomach is upset and is accompanied by nervousness and anxiety.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Lifestyle Tips

  • Increase fiber in the diet as it can reduce constipation but worsen gas and cramping. However, a fiber supplement might cause less gas and bloating than fiber-rich foods.
  • Eliminate foods that trigger symptoms of Spastic Colon.
  • Do not skip meals and eat at regular intervals of time.
  • Exercise regularly.

What Are The Recommended Exercises For a Person With Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The following exercises are recommended for a person with Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

  • Biking
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercise
  • Meditation

Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Pregnancy – Things to Know

  • Diagnosing IBS during pregnancy is difficult because bowels are almost always impacted by pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women are more prone to constipation and some pregnant women find themselves passing looser stools more often, which is a symptom of Spastic Colon.
  • Having IBS does put a very slightly increased risk for premature delivery. Thus, signs of impending preterm contractions must not be taken lightly.
  • When pregnant and dealing with IBS, resort to good prenatal care with a practitioner who is aware of the condition and helps to keep it under control.
  • If Spastic Colon symptoms are not controlled well, it may cause diarrhea, which further causes dehydration. This can lead to preterm labor. Pregnant women with IBS are also at a higher risk of miscarriage.

Common Complications Related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Poor quality of life
  • Mood disorders

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