We’ve all seen the commercials on TV that discuss IBS, and how it’s a gastrointestinal disorder that leads to gas, cramping, pain in the abdomen, bloating, and either diarrhea or constipation. Even if the term irritable bowel syndrome sounds familiar, there are key facts that you may not be aware of.
It might be a little frustrating for people who suffer these uncomfortable symptoms regularly, but the cause of IBS is not fully understood. It is thought that it might be related to improper communication between the brain and intestinal tract. This breakdown in communication could result in atypical muscle contractions, which can cause both cramping and improper passage of the stool through the GI tract.
Being diagnosed with IBS isn’t as simple as going to your doctor and having blood drawn. However, there are a few things your doctor can do to help determine if you have the condition, including a physical exam and detailed patient history. There are sets of criteria which are used to help diagnose IBS, mostly evaluating your symptoms, the length of time you’ve been dealing with them, frequency of symptoms, and severity of the discomfort you’re dealing with. Other physical exams or lab tests can be used to rule out similar conditions such as lactose intolerance.
Even though there’s no actual cure for this gastrointestinal disorder, there are a lot of things you can do to make living with IBS more comfortable and more manageable. Most of these things include lifestyle and dietary changes such as getting regular exercise and sleeping well. Tweaks to your diet can include eating high fiber foods and drinking plenty of water, while also avoiding foods that might trigger your symptoms. There are also new medications to treat symptoms. A recent study is also indicating that IBS can be complicated by a vitamin D deficiency, which might mean that vitamin D supplements could help some patients.
IBS can differ between patients, but it can also differ personally for you from week to week, depending on your stress levels, exercise, or if you’ve been eating certain foods. If you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of IBS regularly and for an extended time, make an appointment at Carolina Digestive Health Associates for an evaluation. Once you have your appointment booked, you can prepare for it by keeping track of what symptoms you’re dealing with. Write down everything you’re feeling, as well as tracking anything that might be making your symptoms worse, like eating certain foods or if you experience symptoms more during certain times of the day. Make sure to write down any questions you have for the doctor, as well as any medications you’re taking regularly. Don’t suffer in silence. Carolina Digestive can help!