What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects at least 10-15% of adults and children worldwide. IBS is one of the most common issue GI Doctors come across too. Although the cause of IBS is still unknown, IBS can have a significant health care and economic burden. IBS usually involves the large intestine (colon) and small intestinal/bowel (gut) motor function (motility) and sensation.
Signs and Symptoms Associated with IBS.
Everyone suffers from bowel changes now and then. However, those who suffer from IBS have severe bowel issues, or have bowel issues that occur more often.
An attack of Irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS) can happen at any time. It may seem to have no reason or rhyme. Here are some symptoms associated with IBS...
- Stomach Bloating
- Excessive Gas
- Mucus in stool
Some people experience IBS with constipation or IBS with diarrhea. Others also experience constipation and diarrhea at the same time. People also experience symptoms like:
- Intestinal Spasms
Women who have IBS may notice that their symptoms worsen during their menstrual cycle.
What is the treatment for IBS?
IBS is not life threatening. It can, however, affect a person's quality of life. There is no cure for IBS so the goal for treatment is to reduce symptoms as much as we possibly can. This usually involves some dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as learning how to manage stress.
You may be able to reduce IBS symptoms if you avoid:
- Fatty Foods
- Gas-Producing Vegetables
- Carbonated drinks
- Artificial Sweeteners
Note, what affects your IBS can be somewhat unpredictable. Stress and hormonal changes also contribute to IBS symptoms. Because of this, a food that is poorly tolerated on one occasion may be enjoyed without consequences on another.
When Should I see A Doctor?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic long term condition with symptoms that come and go. It usually doesn't lead to more serious diseases, but there are “RED FLAGS" to look for. For example:
- Rectal Bleeding
- Weight loss
These signs could mean something more serious going on. But whenever your pain is worse than usual, or if you have a new pain in a different part of your body, you should see your gastroenterologist as soon as possible.