Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the colon or lower bowel area characterized by abdominal pain associated with defecation, in addition to altered bowel habits, including change in form or frequency of bowel movements. The change in bowel movements may be classified as constipation or diarrhea, or a mix between the two. IBS does not have a singular cause, but many factors trigger symptoms, including certain foods, medicines or emotional stress.
Symptoms of IBS can occur continuously or recurrently and can be similar to other disorders, like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Here is a chart to help you navigate your symptoms.
|IBS vs. IBD Symptoms
||Blood in stool
|Cramps or abdominal pain, improves with bowel movements
||Cramp and abdominal pain
|Diarrhea or constipation – sometimes alternating
|Mucus in stool
||Reduced appetite and weight-loss
The evaluation of IBS requires a thoughtful and skilled gastroenterologist’s evaluation. Depending on symptoms, evaluation might include diagnostic testing such as bloodwork, colonoscopy, breath testing, and close and frequent follow-up.
Our Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Program addresses the challenges patients face with sometimes-lifelong gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS. Our specially trained gastroenterologists can help manage your symptoms by:
- Prescribing necessary medications
- Suggesting dietary changes (low FODMAP diet) and making a referral for the appropriate nutrition support services
- Offering support via mental health providers to gain control over symptoms by using techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy
- Working alongside our skilled advanced practice providers and physical therapists for pelvic floor retraining and biofeedback
Changes to diet and activity may help, but treatments vary for everyone. It can be helpful to document what foods you consume in order to figure out which might trigger IBS symptoms.