Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome
While occasional bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation are fairly common among Americans today, if you are experiencing these symptoms frequently, the problem may be more than just mild tummy troubles. You may have a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome, and it may be time to see a gastroenterologist at Digestive Medicine Associates for relief.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic intestinal disorder that commonly results in symptoms including gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. A fairly common condition, irritable bowel syndrome is estimated to affect nearly 60 million Americans every year. The condition affects more women than men.
What are the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include pain, cramping, bloating, gas, mucus in the stool, constipation and diarrhea. Symptoms can also include rectal bleeding and unintended weight loss though these are less common.
With irritable bowel syndrome, symptoms generally come and go. This means that, in addition to high symptom periods, you will also likely have periods where you have no symptoms at all.
What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Doctors do not know exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome though they have identified several factors which may play a role in exacerbating symptoms. These factors will vary from individual to individual, however, so you will need to learn your own risk factors through trial and error.
Common risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome flare-ups include stress, hormones, certain foods, some antibiotics and other medical conditions. People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome may also have intestines that are unusually weak, strong or sensitive, or there may be a problem with the way that the intestines send signals to the brain.
What Treatments are Available for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Since individual symptoms vary widely among individuals who have irritable bowel syndrome, it only makes sense that treatment options would vary just as much. Some gastroenterologists will recommend that their patients begin by making certain dietary and lifestyle changes to see if they help while others will prescribe medications right away. Talk to your doctor to find out which treatment method is right for you.
If you wish to start with dietary and lifestyle changes first, you can begin by exercising, reducing your stress level and eliminating common problem foods from your diet, such as broccoli, raw fruit, gluten, chocolate, fat, beans, milk, alcohol and carbonated beverages. Once your body has had time to detox, you can slowly add these foods back in to your diet one by one to see if the symptoms reappear.
For more advanced cases of irritable bowel syndrome, our gastroenterologist will likely recommend a medication or supplement to ease your symptoms. Common options include anti-diarrheal medications, antispasmodic medications, antibiotics, fiber supplements or antidepressant medications.
If you think you may have irritable bowel syndrome and you are ready to find relief
call Digestive Medicine Associates at (305) 822-4107 to set up an appointment today!
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