Irritable bowel syndrome is a common digestive problem that affects most of the population. It causes discomfort like a pain in the belly or changes in bowel habits that result in diarrhea or constipation. Intestinal bowel syndrome is a long-lasting condition that can affect the lifestyle of an individual. It rarely progresses into complicated stages and is curable by medication, diet management, and lifestyle. Irritable bowel syndrome occurs mostly among adults and only affects a small portion of children and infants.


Irritable bowel syndrome is caused by several factors in normal digestive functioning. It is known that intestinal muscle contractions play a pivotal role in causing this syndrome. Irregular contractions can result in the formation of gas, bloating, and hard stools. The improper functioning of the nerves in the digestive system can also result in increased discomfort.

Besides, there are other leading causes of irritable bowel syndrome such as intestinal inflammations, change in gut bacteria levels, and infections. Several other factors are also attributed to this syndrome such as the intake of dairy products, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, etc. Hormonal changes and stress are also identified as main causes for triggering irritable bowel syndrome.


The most common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome is abdominal pain. It can lead to cramps in the lower portion of the belly that can cause discomfort. Irritable bowel syndrome can cause bloating and gas formation that can give the feeling of fullness that persuades the individual to consume fewer foods. Diarrhea or constipation also occurs that can affect the normal bowel movements in an individual.

In some cases, irritable bowel syndrome can get quite complicated and lead to various symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding, vomiting, swallowing difficulty, anemia, diarrhea at night, etc. When such symptoms are present along with persistent pain, it may signal life-threatening issues like colon cancer, and thus, needs immediate diagnosis and treatment at any nearby low income health clinics.


Irritable bowel syndrome can result in a general decrease in the quality of life and can cause mood swings to develop. In many low income health clinics, the doctors usually diagnose irritable bowel syndrome by conducting various tests such as colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, blood and stool tests, x-ray imaging and testing for gluten allergy, and lactose intolerance.

Most doctors recommend different treatment plans according to the habits and lifestyle of the individual. They will prescribe some medications such as antispasmodics for relieving the irregular bowel movements. Usually, doctors suggest lifestyle modifications including diet changes and management rather than medications to relieve the syndrome permanently without any side effects.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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