Irving Primary Care

The Ultimate Guide to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Did you know that an estimated 1 in 5 people in the US suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, affecting more women than men on average? This makes it the most common disorder diagnosed by physicians.

IBS is more than just the after-effects of a bad meal and can happen periodically over one’s lifetime, especially during high-stress situations.

For the most part, irritable bowel syndrome does not cause severe complications. It is also referred to as mucous colitis, spastic colitis, and nervous colon. It’s a condition that persists for years and the symptoms widely fluctuate depending on the time, environment, and treatment method adopted.  As of now, there is no known cure for IBS, but symptoms can be treated through careful diet, lifestyle choices, and stress management.

Bouts of Constipation and Diarrhea, or Both

The symptoms (and triggers) of IBS vary from person to person. It may cause bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and alternating episodes of constipation and diarrhea. It mostly occurs in people who are under the age of 50. By far the most challenging aspect of living with IBS is the sheer unpredictability. IBS can happen at any time, affecting one’s sense of well being and quality of life.

The unpredictability can cause patients to miss out on social gatherings, force them to call in sick at work, and affect their quality of life during flare-ups. Most patients use prescription medication to minimize the frequency of IBS symptoms and control flare-ups.

There are at least three different types of IBS, identified by a distinct bowel problem, these are as follows:

  • IBS-C (constipation): The patient experiences discomfort, delayed bowel movements, hard stools, and stomach pain.
  • IBS-D (diarrhea): There is noticeable discomfort, runny stools, frequent bowel movements, and an urgent need to go to the toilet.
  • IBS-M (mixed type): The patient experiences both constipation and diarrhea.

Doctors often diagnose IBS by examining the symptoms, for example:

  • Is there any pain in the abdomen?
  • How often does the patient feel bloated?
  • Are there any sudden changes in bowel movement patterns, such as constipation and diarrhea?

Besides, a blood test may be carried out to rule out other possible conditions, including:

  • Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine
  • Lactose intelorenace
  • Celiac disease

IBS Triggers You Should Know About

It is not known what causes IBS. It is not contagious and does not lead to cancer. Your best bet is to identify the possible trigger foods so you can avoid them.

Here is a list of trigger foods for IBS:

  • Processed foods
  • Fried foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Coffee
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • Refined grains

In addition, IBS symptoms can be flared up by excessive stress. This is why it is important to get lots of rest to reduce stress whenever possible through exercise, meditation, and breathing techniques. A well-balanced diet and chewing food slowly can provide relief to IBS symptoms.

Research into irritable bowel syndrome is still ongoing to develop better preventive measures and treatments. For now, it is important to be mindful of one’s diet and managing stress to avoid flaring up IBS symptoms.

If you or your loved one has irritable bowel syndrome and need advice on managing your symptoms, we suggest you book an appointment with a physician at Health One Family Medicine.

Visit or call (469)262-5762 for more information.