A common disorder that affects the large intestine of the body is known as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. Individuals who suffer from IBS will experience cramping, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. The chronic condition can be disruptive to daily life and require management of symptoms in the long term. Signs and symptoms are uncomfortable and can make work or school difficult. Being tested and diagnosed can help you begin to treat your symptoms correctly, learning how to live with IBS.
Symptoms You May Experience
Every individual is different so your IBS symptoms might differ greatly from someone else. You can experience only a few of the symptoms or a mixture depending on your triggers. For the most part, common symptoms include abdominal pain or cramping, gas, a bloated feeling, mucus in the stool, diarrhea or constipation, or both.
Symptoms of IBS can be triggered by many things including stress, eating certain foods or underlying complications from other health issues. If you feel that you may have IBS, it is important to schedule an appointment with a physician so that you can be tested and diagnosed.
Preparing for the Appointment
Once you have made an appointment to see a doctor, you will need to be prepared. Write down symptoms you have experienced and how long they go on for. This will help the doctor to be able to identify any triggers. Personal information will be needed as well including new stress or changes in your life that might have triggered IBS symptoms.
Medical information should be provided including any other conditions you are being treated for, medications you take regularly, vitamins, supplements, etc. It is also important to write down any questions you may have for the doctor so they can provide you with the insight you need during testing and the evaluation appointment.
When visiting your physician for IBS, the doctor will be using a ruling out process to determine if you have the condition. There are usually no physical signs so questions are asked to narrow down what might be going on with your body. Researchers have created two areas of criteria for the diagnosis of IBS as well as other disorders of the gastrointestinal system.
Rome Criteria is the first set which looks for certain signs and symptoms. Abdominal pain and discomfort must last for three days a month and have taken place within the last three months. This pain and discomfort must be associated with two or more criteria; improvement after a bowel movement, an altered frequency of stool or an altered consistency of stool during a bowel movement.
The second set of criteria is known as Manning Criteria. This set focuses on pain relieved during a bowel movement, having incomplete bowel movements, changes in consistency of stool or mucus found in stool. The more of these symptoms that you have, the more likely you are to suffer from IBS.
Additional testing may be needed if more symptoms are present including:
- Onset of symptoms after 50 years of age
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Nausea or recurring vomiting
- Persistent diarrhea or waking from sleep with diarrhea
- Low iron related anemia
- Rectal bleeding
Treatment After Diagnosis
Once you have been diagnosed with IBS, your physician will suggest treatment options. You may be asked to eliminate high-gas foods like broccoli or cabbage as well as remove gluten from your diet. Some people are sensitive to particular groups of carbohydrates so eliminating FODMAPs is needed. This can include such elements as lactose, fructose, and fructans. Additional treatments can be tried as well including colon hydrotherapy or colonics.