Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What should you know?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What should you know? vinceandjoy/ 319681936/

What is it?  Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a varied group of gastrointestinal conditions that is not fully understood.

What causes IBS?  Psychological factors do not cause IBS.  But IBS can make anxiety or depression worse.  Many with IBS have anxiety related to the unpredictability of gastrointestinal symptoms and their IBS may negatively affect their life.

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel?

              Recurrent abdominal pain for more than 6 months, occurring at least 1 day per week with 2 or more of the following symptoms

              Pain better or worse with defecation

              Change in stool frequency

              Abnormal stool frequency (more than 3 times/day or less than 3 times/week)

               Abnormal stool form (hard or loose and watery)

               Mucus with stool

               Abdominal bloating

                Abdominal distention

What is needed to diagnose IBS? 

Patients should not have alarm symptoms: blood in stool, abdominal mass, jaundice, enlarged lymph nodes, rectal pain, vomiting, or weight loss, or night sweats. 

Your physician may order labwork: CBC, thyroid labs, celiac serology, C-reactive protein or fecal calprotectin.  Testing for pathogens in the stool may also be done to rule out infectious diarrhea. 

You may be referred to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy.  Colonoscopy is NOT NEEDED to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. Biopsies may be taken to rule out inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis).

What is the treatment for IBS? 

There is no definitive treatment for IBS.  Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms (constipation or diarrhea) and making patient’s quality of life better.  Healthy eating with more fiber and probiotics may help.  Loperamide (Imodium) may firm up loose stools.  For those with constipation, there are many treatments: fiber, Miralax, lactulose, Dulcolax, senna.   There are also prescription medicines available from the pharmacist for constipation-predominant IBS.

I hope this helps.

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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