irritable bowel syndrome IBS

overview

If you’ve got IBS, you’re not alone. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 10-20% of people worldwide. IBS is a common, usually chronic (long-term) colon condition that results in abdominal pain/discomfort, cramping, bloating, constipation or diarrhea. However, it doesn’t cause any permanent damage to the colon or increase the risk of colon cancer, and it can be managed with lifestyle and diet changes. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes IBS, but it may be related to abnormalities in the functionality of the nerves and muscles of the GI tract related to problems in communication signals between the brain and the gut.

symptoms

Symptoms of IBS vary and can be mild or severe. They may include:

  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
If you’re concerned about symptoms, call your doctor to schedule an appointment.

diagnosis

To diagnose IBS, your doctor will use a set of symptom-based guidelines called the Rome criteria. This means recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort 3 days per month in the last 3 months that is associated with defined symptom criteria.
In other words, a physician can usually diagnose IBS by recognizing certain symptom patterns and performing a detailed physical examination with only limited diagnostic testing. There is no test to confirm a diagnosis of IBS

services & treatment

If you have IBS, your Aurora care team will work with you to determine the best course of treatment, which focuses on treating symptoms to improve the quality of your life. A big part of that is managing stress, which triggers IBS for many sufferers. Treatment may include relaxation exercises, deep breathing, biofeedback, counseling or therapy (which may lead to a prescription for antidepressant medication). Other lifestyle changes include:

  • Eliminating foods that cause gas
  • Antibiotic medication
  • Fiber supplements
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Anticholinergic medication, which relieves bowel spasms
  • IBS-specific medication for severe cases that haven’t been relieved by other treatments. This includes lubiprostone for IBS with constipation and alosetron to relax the colon in female patients with severe diarrhea. Both of these drugs have side effects, and are intended for severe cases of IBS.

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