Normal And Not

If you find yourself experiencing any gastrointestinal discomfort or challenges when it comes to using the restroom, you shouldn’t ignore the symptoms and assume they will go away or fix themselves. You could experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

What is IBS? How Does It Differ From Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

IBS is a functional bowel disorder, meaning that it does not leave behind damage in the intestines. There are three different IBS diagnoses including IBS with constipation, IBS with diarrhea, and IBS with mixed bowel habits. An estimated 12 percent of US adults develop IBS, and women are more likely to have it than men. Your chance to develop IBS also increases as you age.

Another bowel disease that may sound familiar and similar is known as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. The disease presents with similar symptoms to IBS, although unlike IBS, it actually does cause visible damage to the large intestine. IBD includes both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

How Is IBS Diagnosed?

IBS cannot be detected through blood tests or physical examinations of your digestive system, but there are different criteria that doctors use to diagnose IBS. Although IBS is a syndrome that presents differently in different patients, there are some symptoms that most people with IBS will experience. These symptoms include excessive gas, bloating, and abdominal pain and cramps. Unfortunately, these symptoms are shared with other, potentially more serious, gi conditions. These conditions should be ruled out by your doctor.

Depending on what type of IBS you have, you could also present with either diarrhea or constipation- or both. Diarrhea and constipation both come as a result of how your intestinal muscles contract. With diarrhea, it’s usually because they contract too frequently, and constipation usually results from the muscles not moving frequently enough. You may see these symptoms in reaction to eating certain types of food or drinking particular beverages. These might include alcohol, caffeine, raw fruits, and certain veggies. In addition to these physical symptoms, there are mental symptoms that many IBS patients feel as well, including fatigue, stress, and brain fog, including difficulty concentrating, confusion, and impaired judgment.

Is There A Cure For IBS?

There is currently no cure for IBS. In addition to not having a cure, doctors aren’t sure of the exact cause of the disorder. Even though there isn’t a cure, IBS can be managed. Once the condition is diagnosed, you may see some positive changes with an adjustment in your diet and lifestyle. Although it varies based on the individual, some people report feeling better after eliminating gluten, adding fiber supplements, taking certain medications, getting on a regular eating schedule, and exercising regularly. A member of our team can discuss your options based on your individual case after receiving a diagnosis. 

If you’ve been experiencing the above-mentioned signs of IBS, contact Associates In Digestive Health to schedule an appointment so we can help you understand and manage your condition.