Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Understanding the Causes & Symptoms of IBS

Downriver Gastroenterology Irratible Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a disorder that occurs in the large intestine. It can be very uncomfortable for the patient and requires ongoing management to alleviate symptoms. How do you know if you have IBS?

IBS Symptoms

Symptoms will vary from one patient to the next. However, some are more common than others. You may be suffering from IBS if you experience:

  • Cramping and bloating that is relieved or alleviated after a bowel movement
  • Constipation with lumpy or hard stool
  • Diarrhea with loose or watery stool
  • Alternating between constipation and diarrhea
  • Urgent, uncontrollable bowel movements
  • Difficult bowel movements
  • Mucus present in stool
  • Excessive gas
  • Loss of appetite

Some patients also experience anxiety and depression. A gastroenterologist can assess symptoms and determine if IBS could be causing or worsening psychological problems.

What Causes IBS?

Modern medicine doesn’t know exactly what causes IBS, but doctors have theories that include:

  • IBS occurs in people with a sensitive colon
  • IBS happens in people whose brains perceive gut contractions more acutely
  • IBS symptoms can be triggered by hormonal changes
  • Serotonin could affect digestive tract nerves, causing IBS symptoms

How to Manage IBS

Patients with mild IBS can usually manage symptoms through lifestyle changes. They should avoid trigger foods, eat high-fiber foods and drink plenty of fluids. They should also make sure they get adequate sleep and exercise regularly.

Those who experience severe IBS symptoms should make an appointment with a doctor. Contact a medical professional if you notice weight loss, rectal bleeding, iron deficiency anemia, difficulty swallowing, unexplained vomiting, persistent pain, or nighttime diarrhea. Call a gastroenterologist today to learn more about diagnosing and managing IBS.

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