DAVID GIFFORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID GIFFORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artist's depiction of irritable bowel syndrome (also known as spastic colon). Depicted here is a disturbance of involuntary muscle movement in the large intestine combined with gripping cramp, that characterises this condition. Abdominal pain is intermittent and irregular bowel habits may occur (constipation, diarrhoea, or bouts of each), in the absence of any other diagnosed disease. The cause is not fully understood; it is the commonest disorder of the intestine, with the condition twice as common in women as in men. Anxiety and stress are believed to be the main cause, and irr- itable bowel syndrome may recur throughout life. A high-fibre diet may alleviate symptoms.
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