Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not a disease but a set of symptoms that indicates a functional disorder in the digestive tract. People suffering from IBS complain of improper bowel movement and resultant unease.

Medical science is still working with theories on what causes IBS, which also causes the nerves and muscles in the bowel area to be extra sensitive among people who complain of it. It could be that muscles may contract too much when one eats or that nerves may react with the bowel stretches causing severe cramping and pain. These contractions may cause cramping and diarrhea during or shortly after a meal.

More often than not, IBS is painful though it does not damage the colon or other parts of the digestive system. Moreover, it is also not known to lead to other health problems. IBS is usually diagnosed with specific symptoms, using a method called the Rome criteria. Medical tests may also be done to make sure you don’t have any other health problems with the same symptoms.

In addition to a physical examination and blood tests, healthcare officials conduct X-rays, barium enema and colonoscopy. In the colon examination, a long, thin tube, called colonoscope is inserted into the rectum towards the colon. The tube has a light and a tiny lens on the end through which the doctor can get a deeper view of the body.

While there is no known cure for IBs, the symptoms can be relieved through treatments involving diet changes, medicine and stress control measures. Check out a list of seven signs that could indicate irritable bowel syndrome:

1) Persistent irritation in the bowels, especially around the large intestine. Patients feel the urge to visit the water closet very often.

2) Loose motions that lasts for a couple of days at a stretch. Patients complain of loose stools for ten to twelve weeks a year.

3) Recurring bowel aches that makes concentration on work extremely difficult.

4) Bleeding and spotting in the stool.

5) Irresistible urge to visit the toilet sometimes even at the middle of the night.

6) Sharp and sudden reduction in body weight.

7) Changes in bowel habits.