Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a condition that affects the large intestine. While this condition does not damage the intestinal tissue, it can cause severe diarrhea and constipation. In order for a diagnosis of IBS to be given, the patient must experience symptoms for at least three months.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS will affect each person differently, but the most common symptoms include:
- Cramps or sharp pain in abdomen
- Switching back and forth between constipation and diarrhea
- Mucus in stool
How is IBS Diagnosed?
A doctor will want to rule out other health problems before determining if the issue is IBS, If the patient is suffering symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but also has anemia, blood in their stool, fever or weight loss, their doctor will investigate other potential causes.
The testing performed will depend on the patient. Factors such as family history and sets of certain symptoms may lead to one of the following exams:
- Blood Test. A blood test may check for anemia, celiac disease or tissue damage.
- Stool Sample. When a doctor tests a stool sample, they may be looking for bacteria, the presence of blood or even parasites.
- Colonoscopy. For those under the age of 50, this test will be performed if there are warning signs such as rectal bleeding. Those over 50 may simply receive this exam as a formality if a colonoscopy hasn’t been performed in the past few years.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be treated, but not cured. It is possible to manage symptoms through a change of diet, medication and sometimes counseling for stress relief.
Food cannot cause IBS, but it can be a trigger for those with IBS. A doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:
- Avoid Dairy, Wheat and/or Sugar. Lactose intolerance, celiac disease or even an intolerance to sugar may be causing symptoms. A physician will ask the patient to keep a record of which foods cause issues in order to identify trends.
- Eat More Fiber. For those with constipation issues, 20 grams of fiber each day may be enough to alleviate some of those symptoms.
- Avoid Large Meals.Sometimes big meals can be a bit too much for the large intestine to process at once. Instead of three large meals, try eating four or five smaller ones.
- Drink Plenty of Water. Water may not alleviate symptoms, but if diarrhea is present, it will help prevent symptoms of dehydration.
The right medications can help correct imbalances and alleviate symptoms.
- Fiber Supplements. Since getting enough fiber through food may be difficult, fiber supplements may provide relief for those suffering with constipation.
- Anti-Diarrheal Medicine. These medications may provide relief for anyone experiencing diarrhea.
- Lubiprostone. The FDA has approved this medication for women with IBS who have chronic issues with constipation.
Stress Relief Counseling
Many people with IBS also struggle with anxiety and stress. High amounts of stress over a long period of time can make IBS worse. In addition to other treatment, a doctor may refer a patient to a therapist or psychologist if they are exhibiting symptoms of anxiety.
Discuss Your Options
If you are experiencing symptoms of IBS, it may be time to consult a specialist. Mainline Gastroenterology Associates' physicians will work with you to determine the cause of the issue and provide the right treatment options for you.
To schedule an appointment, please call (610) 644-6755.