Symptoms & Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
What is IBS?
IBS, short for irritable bowel syndrome, is a very common disorder that affects the intestines, causing pain, gas, bloating, and bowel pattern changes. Often, those who suffer from IBS feel constipation (inability to pass a bowel). In other cases, those with IBS experience diarrhea (frequent and loose bowel movements). Sometimes, those who experience IBS will have a combination of both of these symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Any of these situations can be disruptive to normal life and even cause damage to the colon or intestines over time.
What is the colon?
The colon, which is found in everyone’s body, is a six-foot tube that connects the small intestine with the rectum. The rectum is an important part of moving waste through the body, which is called colon motility. This is controlled by certain hormones and nerves in the colon muscles. For those who suffer from IBS, this movement is abnormal and spasms instead of making its normal movement. It is thought that emotional stress or certain foods trigger this reaction for people with IBS, though other factors play a role as well.
What triggers IBS?
- Certain medications
- Chocolate milk
- Large amounts of alcohol
- Menstruation (in women)
What is considered a normal bowel movement?
It’s important to note that a “normal” bowel movement (BM) may vary from person to person. For some, a normal BM might mean three stools a day, and for others, it may mean three stools each week. Speak with your doctor if your BM pattern changes suddenly, causes pain, contains blood, or otherwise seems abnormal to you.
How is IBS diagnosed?
IBS can be diagnosed at Gotham Medical Associates, usually after other serious conditions are ruled out. Our initial evaluation will include discussing your symptoms and medical history and conducting any necessary laboratory or imaging tests to rule out other conditions. Additional testing might include colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy when needed.
How is IBS treated?
There is no specific cure or treatment for IBS; however, your doctor will usually recommend certain lifestyle changes and/or medication to help prevent future episodes. Lifestyle changes that might help prevent future IBS episodes include specific diet adjustments and stress management tools.