Is your body telling you that you could have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Are you just experiencing symptoms of an upset stomach, or is there something more going on? It can sometimes be hard to tell, and some people find it embarrassing to talk about, but if you want to find out if your symptoms could be due to IBS, it’s time you turn to a gastroenterologist for care.
What is IBS?
While there is so much about IBS that is still unknown, there are several theories about what causes these symptoms. People with IBS may,
- Have more sensitive colons
- Have a different immune system response
- Experience hormonal fluctuations or changes that trigger IBS
- Produce serotonin that affects digestive tract nerves, causing diarrhea or constipation
While we may not know what causes IBS, we know that it is a true medical condition.
What are the symptoms associated with IBS?
To diagnose someone with IBS, an individual must experience ongoing symptoms for at least six months. One of the most common symptoms of IBS is abdominal pain. Of course, to be able to diagnose your symptoms as IBS, the abdominal pain has to have at least two out of these three factors:
- Passing stool relieves symptoms
- Your symptoms affect the frequency of passing stool
- Your symptoms affect the appearance of stool
There are quite a few things that can cause IBS to flare up. Common foods that cause flare-ups include high-fiber foods, chocolate, alcohol, fructose and caffeine.
How does a gastroenterologist treat IBS?
There are several different kinds of medications that we might recommend, including antispasmodic, antidiarrheal and even antidepressants.
We will also discuss the many lifestyle changes you should adopt to reduce flare-ups. Common lifestyle changes include,
- Maintaining regular exercise to improve the function of the bowels
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding trigger foods
- Reducing or limiting alcohol consumption
- Finding ways to manage stress (e.g., mindfulness; yoga; meditation)
If you are dealing with persistent abdominal pain and bowel changes, it’s important that you find out what’s going on to get the answers and treatments you need to improve your digestive health.