Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis & Treatment
What is IBS and Its Symptoms
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition of the large intestine that causes many uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, and more. While most cases of IBS are minor, there are still a small amount of individuals who will experience severe symptoms of this condition, which can include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal pain and/or cramps
- Feeling bloated
- Rapid change in bowel habits
- Food Intolerance
These symptoms need to occur over a long period of time in order to be diagnosed with IBS. It's also important to know that these symptoms can occur without having IBS, or can be caused by other GI conditions.
Causes and Triggers of IBS
There is no exact reason as to why irritable bowel syndrome occurs. However, the physical cause of IBS is attributed to when the muscle lining of the intestines that rhythmically contracts and relaxes to push food through the digestive system is not working properly. This means that the contractions may last for longer or shorter shorter periods during which they become tighter or weaker than they should be, leading to various symptoms of IBS.
The following stimuli may cause IBS in some people, although specific triggers will vary from person to person:
- Food allergies/intolerance: Make sure to know which foods cause your IBS symptoms to worsen. The best way to learn these triggers is to keep track of what you eat each day and compare this log to any instances of discomfort caused by your symptoms.
- Related medical conditions: GI infections such as gastroenteritis can cause IBS as well as other gastrointestinal diseases.
- Psychological factors: Stress, depression, and anxiety can all trigger irritable bowel syndrome.
- Hormonal imbalance: Improper levels of reproductive hormones, neurotransmitters, and estrogen can lead to IBS.
Risk Factors to Consider
Anyone can develop IBS, but certain factors can increase a person's likelihood to develop it, such as:
- Age: IBS occurs more often in younger people, specifically those under the age of 50.
- Gender: Women are twice as likely to develop IBS than men.
- Mental health status: Since IBS can be psychological, those who struggle with any type of emotional instability are more likely to develop it.
- Family history: As with most illnesses and ailments, a family history of IBS can heavily influence an individual's risk for IBS.
Treatment for IBS from Dr. Thad Denehy
Chronic problems with IBS can often be managed and significantly improved by making a few lifestyle changes. This includes paying extra attention to your diet, as well as considering various types of prescription medication that have been developed specifically to treat symptoms of IBS.
Individuals who struggle with IBS should eliminate gluten, high gas foods (soda, certain vegetables), and many carbohydrates like fructose and lactose (FODMAPs) from their daily diet.
Medications frequently recommended to help calm movements within the large intestine include:
- Anti-diarrheal (Imodium)
- Fiber supplements (Metamucil)
- Antispasmodic (Levsin)
- IBS-specific medication (Lotronex, Amitiza)
- Antibiotics if an infection has occurred
If you have IBS, Dr. Thad Denehy will most likely begin the treatment process by advising you of various lifestyle changes and supplemental medications. Individuals with more severe problems caused by irritable bowel syndrome often require more comprehensive care and should call Gyn Cancer & Pelvic Surgery, LLC at (973) 243-9300.