Overview of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the GI tract. It affects about 15% of the US population! Generally, it is characterized by abdominal pain and irregular bowel habits, but exact symptoms will vary from person to person. Some patients will have a lot of diarrhea, others will tend towards constipation, and still others will alternate between the two.
Causes of IBS
No one fully knows precisely what causes IBS, but the problem seems to be the way in which the brain and the gut are communicating with each other. They constantly send signals back and forth to each other. In patients with IBS, those signals can be too fast or too slow, too strong or too weak. It is also important to know that IBS can be affected by many other factors: the food you eat, other medications you take, emotional states such as stress or anxiety, and even the microbes populating your gut.
Tests for IBS
There is no diagnostic test that detects IBS. Instead, your doctor will make the diagnosis based on your symptoms and after testing for other diseases that can have features similar to IBS.
Managing your IBS Symptoms
Figuring out how to best manage IBS can sometimes be a frustrating process. Unfortunately, there isn’t one thing that works for everybody. Instead, finding what works often involves a lot of trial and error. One of our doctors will work closely with you and develop an individualized treatment plan that might include dietary modifications, medications, or even recommendations for stress management.
No matter what, you can count on the physicians of Columbia Gastroenterology Associates to help guide you through this process and get you feeling better and being more productive!