IBS: Why You Should See a Doctor
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common condition that affects the digestive system and usually manifests as bouts of abdominal cramping, diarrhea, bloating and/or constipation.
Symptoms of IBS vary between different individuals with some having more severe symptoms than others. IBS symptoms tend to wax and wane in periods ranging from days to weeks or months at a time, often after consuming triggering foods or during stressful periods. You may find that some of the symptoms subside after a bowel movement.
Prevalence of IBS
IBS is believed to affect about one in every five people at some point in life and the initial symptoms are often noticed when a person is between 20-30 years of age. There are twice as many women who are affected as men.
IBS is often a lifelong medical condition but with healthy lifestyle changes, it may begin to improve within a couple of months.
Its cause remains unknown but many health experts attribute the condition to increased sensitivity of the gut. Psychological factors such as increased stress have also been shown to trigger symptoms.
Treatment of IBS
There is no known cure for IBS but depending on the trigger for your condition, the symptoms can often be managed by adjusting your diet and lifestyle. A “one size fits all” technique cannot be used in the treatment of IBS as each individual case is unique.
You can however try managing your symptoms by:
- Identifying the foods or beverages that tend to trigger your symptoms and eliminating them from your diet
- Embarking on a regular fitness regimen
- Reducing your stress levels
In severe cases, medication can be considered to treat the manifesting symptoms. However, you should not self-medicate.
How to live with IBS
IBS is one of the most unpredictable health conditions and you may go for a number of months without experiencing any of the symptoms then out of nowhere, have a sudden flare-up.
Such flare-ups can be quite debilitating and painful which can in turn affect your quality of life as well as emotional state. Many people suffering from IBS can experience anxiety, depression and increased stress levels, especially during these bouts.
It is important to note that IBS does not pose an active threat to your overall health and it will not increase your chances of developing cancer. However, being proactive and taking the necessary steps to manage your symptoms will hopefully improve your quality of life.
Not sure whether you have IBS or any other gastrointestinal condition such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease? Book an appointment with Gotham Medical Associates for a comprehensive medical evaluation.