WHAT IS IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)?
IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disease that’s defined by two primary symptoms: abdominal pain and changes in your bowel habits. You may have IBS with constipation, diarrhea, or both.
Though your abdominal pain may vary, patients often describe it as a constant, dull ache with occasional episodes of sharp pain. IBS pain usually affects your lower abdomen and improves after a bowel movement.
WHAT OTHER SYMPTOMS DOES IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME CAUSE?
In addition to the primary symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain, you may also experience:
- Bad breath
- Frequent urination
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle pain
Most patients with IBS have periods of remission that alternate with flareups. An IBS flareup may be triggered by certain foods, alcohol, stress and hormonal changes.
HOW DO GASTROENTEROLOGISTS DIAGNOSE IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME?
IBS is primarily identified by symptoms because there aren’t any diagnostic tests specifically for the condition. Your doctor evaluates your symptoms, performs an exam, and orders diagnostic tests to rule out other health problems that can cause the same symptoms.
You may be tested for celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, for example. Your doctor may also recommend diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan, to evaluate abdominal structures, or a colonoscopy to examine your large intestine.
HOW DO YOU TREAT IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME?
Our team understands that IBS has a significant impact on the quality of your life. They work together with you to develop a multimodal treatment plan that includes:
Many patients with IBS find that their symptoms improve when they make changes like increasing fiber consumption or following a special diet. Your doctor also helps you identify which foods may trigger your flareups, then develops a plan to help you avoid those foods.
Your doctor may prescribe a medication that targets your symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bowel spasms and diarrhea. If all other treatment options fail, some patients are good candidates for medications that treat severe diarrhea, decrease bacterial overgrowth, and relieve constipation. However, these medications can also cause side effects, so they’re not recommended for everyone with IBS.