The first thing to know about IBS is that it’s a common disorder. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States alone and most people with IBS are under the age of 50. While the exact causes of IBS are unknown, it is a disorder which effects the large intestine (colon), or the small intestine (gut), creating problems with mobility and leading to pain. It doesn’t cause any damage to your gastrointestinal system, but it is a chronic condition that many people must manage long-term.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common signs of IBS are cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, gas, mucus in stool, diarrhea or constipation. A person with IBS may see a change in their bowel habits or get the feeling that a bowel movement isn’t fully finished. The main difference between these symptoms and IBS is that people with IBS experience these symptoms over and over again.
There are many treatments available for IBS. Depending on an individual’s situation, a gastroenterologist might suggest eliminating gassy foods or gluten. This often improves diarrhea symptoms and gas. Medications are also an option, including fiber supplements, anti-diarrheal medications, anticholinergics or antidepressants or antibiotics. While stress doesn’t cause IBS, many patients with IBS also complain of stress, which is why sometimes counseling is recommended as well. Your doctor might try any combination of these to discover what works best for you.
When to see a doctor
While 1 in 5 Americans have IBS, much fewer than that seek medical help. The IFFGD states that nearly 2,000 patients with IBS reported in a survey that they didn’t receive treatment until 6.6 years after symptoms began.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms above, visit a gastroenterologist, such as Drs. Carl Calandra, and Suman Kaur at Digestive Disease Associates in Hinsdale, IL, for a proper diagnosis.
Call Digestive Disease Associates in Hinsdale, IL at 630-325-4255.
Note: This information shouldn’t take the place of a physician’s care. Please see your physician or one of the Digestive Disease Associate physicians with any questions or concerns.