Are There Treatments Available for IBS?

Wooden scrabble tiles spelling 'IBS'

Bouts of abdominal pain, cramps, gas,  diarrhea, and bloating now and then are common. When you have these symptoms more frequently, you could have a condition called IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), which is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. There are more than 3 million IBS cases per year in the US, but despite those high numbers, IBS is treatable.

What Is IBS?

There is no test to definitively diagnose IBS. What is known about IBS is that it’s a long-term gastrointestinal condition, symptoms tend to come and go over time and often change over time, and symptoms can usually be managed so that you feel better.

What Causes IBS?

While it’s not clear what causes IBS, research suggests that the following are possible contributing factors:

  • Colon sensitivity
  • A disruption in the brain signals that are sent to your intestines
  • Stress
  • GI tract infections
  • Abnormal immune system response
  • Hormone changes
  • Difficulties in converting food throughout the GI tract
  • Spasming or contracting GI muscles
  • Bacterial changes in the small intestine
  • Changes in body chemicals and/or hormones involving nerve signal transmissions
  • Particular foods or beverages which can be difficult to digest, for example, high acid, sugary, fatty, and high carbohydrate items
  • Mental health conditions, like anxiety, depression, or panic attack disorders

What Are Symptoms of IBS?

A set of symptoms that you are frequently experiencing usually points to IBS, however, these symptoms vary from one person to another. Commonly seen IBS symptoms include:

  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Excess gas
  • An alternating pattern of diarrhea and constipation
  • Bowel movement changes
  • A sudden need to have a bowel movement
  • Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement soon after you’ve had one
  • Significant mucus in the stool

How Is IBS Diagnosed?

There are several tests your gastroenterologist can do to see if you have IBS, which may include:

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy procedure is a routine test where your doctor uses a small, flexible tube to view the inside of your colon to check for any irregularities.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy

During a flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure, your doctor uses a sigmoidoscope (a long, flexible tube with a small light and camera at the end) to view your rectum and lower colon. The camera helps your doctor spot any irregularities to more accurately diagnose your digestive problem.

Blood testing

A complete blood count is done to exclude an alternative diagnosis.

Stool testing

Your stool sample is tested for bacteria or parasites. A test may also be done that measures the digestive liquid your liver produces called bile acid if you have chronic diarrhea.

Rome criteria

Using the Rome criteria approach, your gastroenterologist looks for repeating symptoms. Questions your doctor will ask include:

  • Have you had symptoms for six months or longer?
  • Do you have abdominal pain at a minimum of three times a month for three months or longer?
  • Do you feel your stomach pain gets better after you move your bowels?
  • How often do you experience changes in the frequency of your bowel movements?
  • Are there any changes in your stool?

IBS Treatment Options

The treatment options which could be recommended for you include:

  • Stress management
  • Dietary changes
  • Eating changes (smaller meals)
  • Medicines
  • Holistic pain management
  • Probiotics
  • Fiber supplements
  • Laxatives

If you’re suffering from the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, one of our IBS specialists at Allied Digestive Disease Center of Houston can help. We also provide nutrition services for people in North Houston and surrounding areas. We treat both minor and chronic GI conditions. Schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today by calling 832.912.4481 or fill out the form on this page.

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