IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal disorder that affects the colon (the large intestine). The colon’s main job is to absorb water and nutrients from partially digested food. Anything that is not absorbed is slowly moved through the colon toward the rectum and out of the body as waste in the form of feces (poop).
Muscles in the colon work to get rid of the body’s waste products. They contract and relax as they push the undigested food through the large intestine. These muscles also work with other muscles to push the waste out of the anus.
If the muscles in the colon don’t work at the right speed for proper digestion or if the coordination with muscles in the rectum or pelvis is interrupted, the contents of the colon can’t move along smoothly. When this happens, a person can feel the belly cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea that may be signs of IBS.
A lot of teens have IBS. It’s estimated that between 6% and 14% of all teens have IBS symptoms. It seems to affect more girls than guys.
The good news is that although IBS can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and even painful, it’s not life threatening. And, unlike other digestive conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, IBS doesn’t carry a risk of permanent damage to the intestines.