Affecting the large intestine, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the digestive system. Its main symptoms include abdominal pain, gas, cramping, bloating, and constipation and/or diarrhea.
IBS is a chronic condition – so once someone is affected, they will have the condition for their entire lifetime. However, many people successfully manage the symptoms without causing great upheaval in their lives.
Below, we talk about the basics of IBS and the various options you have in treating its symptoms and effects:
How Is IBS Diagnosed?
While there is no test that can conclusively confirm the presence of the condition, there are factors that can help narrow down a diagnosis. The doctor will examine the patient’s family history and check for similar issues.
There are three types of IBS: constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant, or a combination of the two. If a close relative has had IBS with diarrhea, it could actually be gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Once other possible conditions have been ruled out, two specific tests are conducted for IBS symptoms using the Rome criteria and the Manning criteria:
The Rome criteria state that the patient must have abdominal pain and discomfort at least one day per week for three months, in addition to two of the following symptoms:
- Pain and discomfort while passing stool
- Altered frequency of defecation
- Having drastic changes in stools
The Manning criteria mainly focus on these symptoms:
- Whether pain is relieved upon the passing of stool
- Incomplete bowel movements
- The presence of mucus in stool
- Changes in the consistency of the stool
The more of these IBS symptoms that are present, the greater the likelihood of an IBS diagnosis.
Other IBS Diagnostic Tests
Your gastroenterologist may order additional tests to check for infections, intestinal inability, or malabsorption of nutrients from food. These tests include flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, X-rays, or CT scans.
Additional testing could include lactose-intolerance tests and a breath test to determine whether bacteria are to blame. Bacterial problems are common in people who have undergone previous bowel surgery.
An upper endoscopy can be used to check the upper GI tract, to take a biopsy of a small section of the intestine, and to rule out celiac disease.
How Can I Treat IBS?
The best treatment for IBS is to avoid potential food triggers. Maintain a diet high in fiber, drink plenty of fluids, exercise regularly, and get enough rest.
Additional measures for treating IBS include avoiding foods with high gas potential. These include carbonated and alcoholic beverages, caffeine, raw fruit, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Foods with gluten can irritate IBS, even without having celiac disease. By removing one food at a time from your diet, it may be possible to narrow down foods that are well-tolerated by your body and those that are not.
Gastroenterologists in Central Pennsylvania
If you have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive disorders, we can help. With careful management and a regulated diet, you can lead a happier, healthier, symptom-free lifestyle.
Contact our team at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates today by calling (717) 245-2228 or request an appointment via our online form now, and start feeling better tomorrow!