Irritable colon produces pain over the colon and altered colonic function in the absence of any underlying organic disease. It has been estimated that up to half of the patients complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms suffer from this.
Irritable Colon Symptoms
There may be discomfort and pain over any part of the colon. It may occur on the right or left side of the abdomen or in the epigastric region (at the lower end of the breastbone). Sometimes there may have been an attack of dysentery or food poisoning on an overseas trip. Attacks appear to be related to stress and often come on when tensions and anxieties are pronounced. The pain may occasionally be acute and griping. Generally the pain is eased by a bowel action and the passage of flatus (wind). Food may make it worse. Sometimes the patient will incriminate certain foods as bringing on an attack, but this is rare. Bouts of constipation will sometimes aggravate these symptoms. The ensuing bout of diarrhea will usually bring relief.
Often a large amount of jellylike material called mucus will be passed (it is referred to as mucus colitis). There may be an urgent desire to have a bowel action, but a sensation of not being satisfied afterwards. Medical investigation is necessary to exclude any serious underlying pathology, for many of these symptoms are also symptoms of definite pathological disorders. However, results of all investigations are negative.