By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute
Irritable bowel syndrome is common and lifelong. The symptoms are stomach pains, a bloated sensation and varying defecations. You can soothe the pains with a diet rich with fibres and regular exercise. Your general practitioner can with a few examinations determine whether you have another illness that requires treatment. Only very few with irritable bowel syndrome need to see a specialist.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common bowel disorder It is estimated that 15% of the population has irritable bowel syndrome – women twice as frequently as men. Most contract the illness when they are young or young adults and will suffer from it periodically for the rest of their lives.
Stomach pains or an uncomfortable bloated sensation together with a disturbance in the pattern of defecations with variation between loose and hard stool and soothing when letting go of air or stool are characteristics of irritable bowel syndrome.
The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown. It is assumed that unfavourable interaction between the brain and a hypersensitive intestine plays an important part. We all know about stomach cramps with thin defecation in times of stress (exams, speeches). With patients with irritable bowel syndrome, the intestine overreacts. Even the slightest stress or anxiety can trigger the symptoms. Most people with irritable bowel syndrome know that they are more nervous than others. The symptoms enhances their nervousness and they may become concerned about whether they are seriously ill – for example with cancer in the intestine.