Just a Gut Feeling? It Could be IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, affects about one in 10 people in the United States, and women are twice as likely to have it. Even children can have IBS.
IBS is not a disease but rather a functional disorder, and unfortunately, there is no known cause. Some doctors think it is caused by stress while others theorize people with IBS have a more “sensitive” colon. Either way, we do know that stress can exacerbate the symptoms.
When you have IBS, your colon muscles begin to move and tighten uncontrollably (spasm) after normal events such as eating. Symptoms may include crampy abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea, and mucus in the stool.
“To diagnosis IBS, your doctor will take your full medical history, perform a physical examination and schedule screening laboratory tests and/or endoscopic tests to assess for infection and inflammation,” says Woosuk Park, MD, Gastroenterologist. “More than likely, these tests will be normal. In most cases, IBS is a diagnosis that is given after all other possible disorders have been ruled out.”
IBS symptoms can affect your daily activities. It’s important to work with your doctor to manage the disease.
“You may need a plan to curb your symptoms, such as changes in diet, work, lifestyle and emotional or mental health,” says Dr. Park. “Your doctor may also prescribe medicines that can help control the symptoms or prevent the things that trigger your symptoms.”
Talk with you primary doctor if you think you have IBS. If needed, he or she will refer you to a gastroenterology specialist for additional testing.