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Recurring Abdominal Pain

Some of the symptoms that you have reported suggest "irritable bowel syndrome." Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as "IBS," "spastic colon," or "mucus colitis," is discomfort from the lower bowel that occurs during normal digestion. It is a common problem, causing symptoms in more than ten percent of the population.

About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

All people have nerve endings in their intestinal tracts. These nerves sense stretching of the small intestine and colon and control their periodic contractions (known as peristalsis) that propel food along the digestive tract. In the case of an irritable bowel, the nerves within the bowel are unusually sensitive. They can react in a disorderly or exaggerated way to normal stretching from food residue that is passing through the intestines. Your nerves may cause your colon to be unusually active or unusually still. Normal digestion activity can therefore result in symptoms.

The most typical symptoms from an irritable bowel include

  • pain in the mid-abdomen or lower abdomen

  • diarrhea, constipation, or episodes of each

  • mucus that is passed with bowel movements

  • fullness (bloating) in the abdomen

  • loose or frequent stools during pain episodes

  • relief of pain following a bowel movement

  • a feeling that you can't empty your rectum completely.

Irritable bowel symptoms can be managed with adjustments in your diet and can be aided with medicines that reduce nerve sensitivity or spasm in the bowel.

The diagnoses that might be considered in your evaluation are

  • abdominal adhesions

  • celiac disease (celiac sprue)

  • Crohn's disease

  • irritable bowel syndrome

  • lactose intolerance

  • ulcerative colitis.


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