Do you often experience stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation?
If so, you may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.
Unfortunately, many people do not know they have it because the symptoms can be mild and intermittent.
In this post, we will discuss the symptoms and treatment options for IBS.
What is IBS?
IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine.
Functional gastrointestinal disorders are those where the GI tract looks normal but doesn’t work properly.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but it’s thought to be due to a combination of factors, including:
- Genetics: If you have a family member with IBS, you’re more likely to develop it yourself.
- Abnormalities in the digestive system: People with IBS may have a different number of intestinal bacteria or a sensitive gut.
- Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, and depression can trigger or worsen IBS symptoms.
- Food sensitivity: Some people with IBS are sensitive to foods, such as dairy, gluten, or FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols).
IBS negatively affects the quality of life and may result in missed workdays or school.
How to Tell If You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person.
However, the most common symptom of IBS is abdominal pain.
This pain is usually relieved by a bowel movement.
Other symptoms of IBS include:
- Bloating and gas
- Mucus in the stool
- Fatigue (tiredness and a lack of energy)
- Bowel incontinence
- Anxiety and depression
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
How is IBS diagnosed?
IBS is typically diagnosed by ruling out other possible causes of the symptoms.
Your doctor will likely ask you about your medical history and perform a physical exam.
They may also order tests, such as a stool sample or blood test, to rule out other conditions.
How is IBS treated?
There is no cure for IBS, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.
- Dietary changes: Some people find that certain foods trigger their IBS symptoms. Common triggers include dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Stress management: Stress can worsen IBS symptoms. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, may help.
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to relieve IBS symptoms, such as pain relievers, anti-diarrheal medications, and laxatives.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria that can help improve gut health. They are available in supplement form or in certain foods, such as yogurt.
What happens if irritable bowel syndrome goes untreated?
IBS is a chronic condition, which means it lasts for a long time and can flare up at any time.
If left untreated, IBS can lead to other health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
How do you calm an IBS flare-up naturally?
There are a few things you can do at home to calm an IBS flare-up:
- Drink plenty of fluids: This will help to prevent dehydration.
- Eat small, frequent meals: Eating large meals can trigger IBS symptoms.
- Avoid Trigger Foods: As mentioned above, certain foods may trigger IBS symptoms.
- Exercise: Exercise can help to relieve stress and anxiety, which may trigger IBS symptoms.
- Get enough sleep: Fatigue can worsen IBS symptoms.
When should you see a doctor?
You should see a doctor if your IBS symptoms are severe or if they are interfering with your daily life.
Your doctor can help you develop a treatment plan to manage your symptoms.