IBS is a functional bowel disorder that is characterized by abdominal pain and a change in the bowel habit (change in stool form or frequency). Diarrhea, constipation, or both may dominate in a single patient.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Patients with IBS most often complain about abdominal pain, stomach cramps, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and/or constipation.
Is there a specific diagnostic method indicating IBS?
No, there is no specific test proving the disorder with certainty. The diagnosis is made by a physician based on the replies to some of the specific inquiries regarding your troubles. Additionally, the elimination of the presence of another gastrointestinal condition may also assist making the diagnosis.
How is IBS treated and how long?
Usually, for most patients, the disorder will be present throughout their lives. There are therapy modalities that may alleviate your symptoms, but there is no medicine that would fully cure IBS. However, through good communication and cooperation with the physician sufficient control of the disorder is achievable for most patients. For patients with mild and occasional symptoms the condition is usually controlled by changes in the hygiene and diet regime, while for patients with more frequent and severe symptoms a medication treatment is recommended.
What can I do to feel better?
Avoid food that aggravates your symptoms, in particular food causing bloating and gas;
If you are constipated, try a diet rich in fibers (fruits and vegetables);
Increase your physical activity (20-60 minutes at least 3-5 days per week);
Keep a diary and note the food intake, your activities and symptoms;
Psychological counselling may be beneficial if you are facing more intensive stress and anxiety;
If a systematic short-term elimination of lactose and gluten in your diet leads to improvements, your physician may recommend a long-term gluten- or lactose-free diet.
Which groups of medications are used to treat IBS?
Medications to relieve diarrhea;
Medications to relieve constipation;
Antidepressants (in very small doses they relieve the pain);
Selective gastrointestinal antibiotics (relieve bloating and diarrhea);