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(ĭr′ĭ-gāt-or) A device used to flush or wash a part or cavity with fluids.


(ĭr″ĭt-ă-bĭl′ĭ-tē) [L. irritabilitas] 1. Excitability. 2. An ability to respond in a specific way to a change in environment, a property of all living tissue. 3. A condition in which a person, organ, or a part responds excessively to a stimulus. 4. A quick response to annoyance; impatience.

muscular i. The normal response of muscle to a stimulus.

nervous i. The response of a nerve to a stimulus.

paradoxical i. An increase in the fussiness of a sick child when comforted by a parent. It is considered to be a physical sign of meningitis or of recent child abuse.


1. Capable of reacting to a stimulus. 2. Sensitive to stimuli.

irritable bowel syndrome

ABBR: IBS. A syndrome marked by abdominal pain (often relieved by the passage of stool or gas); disturbances of evacuation (constipation, diarrhea, or alternating episodes of both); bloating and abdominal distention; and the passage of mucus in stools. These symptoms must be present despite the absence of anatomical, biochemical, or clinical evidence of active intestinal disease. It is not associated with weight loss, fevers, or intestinal bleeding.

INCIDENCE: The syndrome is common and found in as many as 15 to 25% of people in Western societies. Women are typically affected more often than men; in some studies the ratio of women to men is 3:1.

CAUSES: IBS occurs more often in patients who have had a history of physical or sexual abuse in childhood than in patients without such a history. Many studies have found a relationship between irritable bowel syndrome and a history of anxiety, psychological stress, or personality disorders. Physiologically, patients with IBS may have an increased or decreased rate of bowel motility.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS: Patients are symptomatic during the day, but they do not have pain, bloating, distention, diarrhea, or other abdominal symptoms while sleeping.

DIAGNOSIS: Young patients suspected of having IBS should undergo testing to exclude other illnesses. Tests should include a careful physical examination, complete blood count, metabolic panel, assessment of thyroid and liver functions; estimated sedimentation rate; and stool testing for occult blood. In constipation-predominant IBS, tests to evaluate colonic transit and rectal evacuation are useful. In diarrhea-predominant IBS, diagnostic testing should include assessments of carbohydrate or fat maldigestion. Patients over age 45 should also have sigmoidoscopy to rule out structural or anatomical lesions of the colon.

TREATMENT: Management of IBS should begin by establishing a therapeutic relationship between clinician and client. Educating the patient about the benign nature of the illness ...

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