Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may not be serious, but its discomfort can still interfere with your daily life and disrupt it significantly. Diet changes and medications may help alleviate the symptoms.
Discuss with your physician any red flags that do not fit with IBS, such as rectal bleeding or unexplained weight loss; these could indicate more severe issues.
IBS symptoms include abdominal discomfort and changes in stool. People may alternate between constipation and diarrhea; others can move back and forth between both states. Unlike some digestive conditions, however, IBS doesn’t cause permanent damage to the colon.
IBS may be caused by food intolerances, specifically FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) such as lactose-containing products like wheat, beans, onions, garlic or chocolate; stress anxiety depression are other possible triggers.
Doctors diagnose IBS by considering your symptoms, medical history and physical exam. Blood tests may also be performed to rule out other diseases that could mimic it such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. A flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy is used to examine the lower part of your bowel and colon in more detail while X-rays and rectal examination may also be conducted depending on how severe your symptoms are. Your physician will select an effective medicine depending on its effectiveness for you personally.
Mercy understands how difficult it can be to live with Irritable Bowel Disease symptoms, and our goal is to assist patients in finding medications to address those symptoms and enhance quality of life.
In the past, diagnosing IBS was seen as a process of exclusion; that is, physicians could only confidently make their diagnosis once all other disorders that could explain your symptoms had been eliminated from consideration. Now however, most doctors believe it’s essential to explore your goals for treatment and how the disorder impacts you before making their conclusion and making their diagnosis of IBS.
Your NYU Langone gastroenterologist will begin by conducting a detailed medical history examination and asking about your diet, travel habits and family history of digestive diseases. After conducting this preliminary assessment, a physical exam may also take place which includes checking your abdomen for signs of inflammation such as pain as well as red flag symptoms such as an increase or decrease in frequency or presence of bleeding during bowel movements.
Dietitians offer many treatment options for IBS. Diet changes often provide relief. A dietitian can assist in making these changes and discovering what works for you.
Avoid foods that trigger symptoms, including dairy and cheese products, caffeine (found in coffee, tea and soda), fatty or greasy foods and alcohol as these may be difficult for you to digest. Incorporate more fiber-rich whole grain products into your diet along with vegetables and fruit in addition to drinking lots of water!
Some medications may help ease your symptoms. These include bile acid sequestrants, which work within your digestive tract to decrease diarrhea; eluxadoline (Viberzi), which works to decrease bowel contractions and belly cramps; and lubiprostone (Amitiza), which increases fluid secretion in your small intestine to speed up stool movement.
Antidepressants may help ease stomach pain and nausea. Some doctors also suggest stress-reduction techniques like breathing exercises or hypnotherapy for relieving stress.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) occurs when colon muscles squeeze and relax to move undigested food out of the large intestine; however, these muscles don’t function at an efficient rate or communicate well with one another, leading to abdominal cramps, bloating and changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation).
Avoid foods that cause discomfort to your stomach by keeping a food diary, keeping a food plan, eating more frequently but smaller meals and limiting caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks as possible triggers. A food diary will also be invaluable in helping identify possible triggers that might include high fat foods or monosodium glutamate additives in food products. Eating smaller meals more frequently and avoiding caffeine alcohol and carbonated drinks can all help alleviate symptoms.
Antidiarrheal medication may help ease diarrhea if it’s an ongoing problem for you, especially if episodes of loose stools occur regularly. Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter drugs like Imodium (loperamide) or stronger drugs like Xifaxan (rifaximin) or Viberzi (eluxadoline). Many people with IBS report improved symptoms after following a low FODMAP diet that limits fructose, lactose, and sorbitol intake from foods – however this should only be undertaken under guidance from an experienced registered dietitian to ensure all necessary nutrients are consumed.