Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 1
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain or discomfort in the abdomen and changes in your bowel movements between diarrhea and constipation.
IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders, which doctors call disorders of gut-brain interactions, are related to problems with how your brain and your gut work together. These problems can cause your gut to be more sensitive and change how the muscles in your bowel contract.
What Causes IBS?
Doctors aren't sure what causes IBS. Experts think that a combination of problems may lead to IBS. Different factors may cause IBS in different people
IBS is the most common intestinal problem that causes patients to be referred to a bowel specialist (gastroentrerologist).
It affects about 1 in 5 Americans. It occurs more often in women than men and begins before the age of 35 in about half the people who get it.2
What are the Symptoms of IBS?
Symptoms range from mild to severe and are different from person to person, although most people experience mild symptoms.
The main symptoms of IBS include:
These symptoms may be reduced or go away for a short time after a bowel movement. For some people, the symptoms may worsen for a few weeks or months and then get better for a while. For others with IBS, the symptoms are present almost all of the time.
How is IBS Treated?
You should see your prescribing healthcare practitioner to discuss your symptoms. Usually, your doctor can diagnose IBS with few or no tests. However, they may have you eat a lactose-free diet for a few weeks to eliminate the possibility of lactose intolerance as the cause of your symptoms.
Potential treatment options for irritable bowel syndrome may include:
Medications which may help could include anticholinergic medications (dicyclomine, propantheline, belladonna, and hyoscyamine) to control intestinal muscle spasms, bisacodyl to treat constipation, loperamide to treat diarrhea, and/or lubiprostone for constipation symptoms.
More Resources on IBS:
Following are additional sources of information:
Mayo Clinic IBS Patient Support Group Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health1 https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/definition-facts/ 2 https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/02/grumbling-guts/