Call it gut instinct, but you’ve noticed that something just isn’t right with your digestive tract lately. Could it be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? IBS is surprisingly common, affecting as many as 45 million American adults today. Read on to learn more about the warning signs of IBS and when you should turn to our Orlando, FL, gastroenterologists for a proper evaluation.
What is IBS?
IBS is a chronic and common digestive disorder that affects the large intestines. IBS should not be confused with inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are different.
What are the sign and symptoms of IBS?
While some people may experience persistent symptoms, oftentimes, those with IBS will experience periodic flare-ups with bouts of remission. Common IBS symptoms include,
- Excessive and uncontrollable gas
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Mucus in the stool
- Food intolerances
If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms at least three times a month for three months or more, then it’s time to speak with your Orlando, FL, gastrointestinal physician.
What triggers IBS?
While doctors still don’t know what causes IBS, there are certain factors that can increase the likelihood of an IBS flare-up. These triggers include,
- Hormonal fluctuations (e.g. menstruation)
- Certain foods
Even though there is no specific test designed to diagnose IBS, there are certain tests that help our gastroenterologist determine whether your symptoms are due to IBS or another condition or disease. This may require blood tests, a stool sample, or colonoscopy, depending on the type of symptoms you are experiencing.
How is IBS treated?
This is no cure for IBS; however, your gastroenterologist can help you manage your symptoms through lifestyle and dietary changes, as well as medications. Lifestyle changes include,
- Finding effective ways to manage stress
- Getting enough sleep
- Getting regular exercise
- Taking probiotics
- Reducing the amount of fiber in your diet
- Avoiding spicy and fried foods, carbonated beverages, coffee, gluten, cruciferous veggies, and high-fiber foods (e.g. cereal)
Some patients find that they experience the best relief from their IBS symptoms by following a low FODMAP diet. Your doctor may also prescribe certain medications to treat IBS. These medications may include,
- Low-dose antidepressants
- Antispasmodics (to treat abdominal cramping and pain)
- Antimotility medicine (for diarrhea)
If abdominal pain and stomach issues are making mealtimes a source of stress for you, then it’s time to find out what’s going on. With two offices in Orlando and one office in Kissimmee, FL, Digestive and Liver Center of Florida can easily get you in for an immediate consultation. Call us today at (407) 384-7388.