Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive condition that causes symptoms that range from mild abdominal discomfort to excruciating pain. Someone who suffers from IBS has certain things that can trigger its symptoms, which are caused by various issues affecting the intestines (bowels).

Note that IBS is different than inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which can cause harmful destruction of the intestines. IBD generally comprises ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. In contrast, IBS is a reactionary disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, rather than an inflammatory condition.

Fortunately, IBS can be effectively controlled and mitigated through a few simple diet and lifestyle modifications. Let’s talk about the key components surrounding irritable bowel syndrome, what you can do about it, and where you can go throughout California for world-class gastrointestinal care.

Triggers and Symptoms of IBS

Common IBS triggers include certain types of medication, stress, and certain foods – including high-fiber foods, such as cereals and breads, or gas-producing foods like beans and soda. In women, their period can trigger IBS.

Some of the main symptoms of IBS include the following:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in bowel movements
  • Presence of mucus in stool

Because IBS shares symptoms with other digestive issues, getting a clinical diagnosis is critical to receiving the right treatment for you.

How Is IBS Diagnosed?

IBS is diagnosed by a gastroenterologist through a review of the patient’s medical history and conducting a series of tests, in what is essentially a process of elimination. These tests may include blood tests, stool samples, and either a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

A sigmoidoscopy involves examining only part of the colon, while a colonoscopy examines the entire colon. You would remain awake during the less-invasive sigmoidoscopy, whereas a full colonoscopy warrants “twilight” sedation so you’re asleep during the procedure.

During the diagnosis stage, the doctor will also determine the type of IBS you have in order to design the most effective treatment. IBS types include constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant, or a combination of both.

How IBS Is Treated

Treatments for IBS are highly individualized, taking into account the patient’s triggers, type of IBS, lifestyle, and preferences. Every treatment plan for IBS includes recommended modifications in diet and lifestyle.

The avoidance of triggers is important, and so is drinking plenty of water to keep the intestines flushed out at all times. Caffeine, soda, processed wheat, and milk products tend to trigger irritable bowel syndrome.

Probiotics provide calcium and good bacteria that can help to neutralize the effects of IBS. Regular exercise, particularly low-impact activities such as walking, cycling, and swimming, also help improve IBS, since it promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels.

Your gastroenterologist may also prescribe medication to ease the symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

IBS Treatment in California

If IBS symptoms are making life difficult, the best thing you can do is to see a doctor who specializes in treating this type of condition – namely, a gastroenterologist. Working with a dedicated GI doctor is your best approach to managing your IBS and going back to living the life you love.

Here at Genensis Healthcare Partners, we are the largest gastroenterology group in California. Our physicians’ skills, experience, and renowned bedside manner make us a preferred choice for patients seeking gastroenterology services.

If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists, call our clinic nearest you or fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to providing you a customized treatment for your GI condition.