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Everything You Need to Know About IBS

Up to 15% of American adults have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s one of the most common digestive diseases diagnosed today, and symptoms have the power to significantly affect your quality of life.

IBS goes by many names, including irritable colon, spastic colon, and spastic colitis. But whatever you call it, the condition is characterized by intestinal symptoms like cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but if you’re living with abdominal pain or digestive issues, don’t ignore it. Elvira Klause, MD, FACS, and our team offer top-tier care for abdominal issues. We can help you find relief.

Common IBS symptoms

Nearly everyone has experienced an upset stomach at some point. Gas, bloating, and diarrhea can be painful and unpleasant, but for people with IBS, these symptoms are long-lasting.

IBS is a chronic condition that generally persists for several months, with symptoms present at least a few days each month. The symptoms of IBS often include:

For many IBS sufferers, symptoms interfere with everyday life. If you’ve experienced bowel changes, you need to seek medical attention.

Causes of IBS

The exact causes of IBS aren’t clear, but several factors seem to be linked to the condition. Intestinal muscle contractions, nerves within your digestive tract, and gut microbes could influence IBS symptoms. 

Your intestines rely on muscle contractions to pass food, but contractions that are too strong can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea. In contrast, contractions that are too gentle may lead to hard stools and constipation. 

Digestive issues can also develop if nerve signals from your intestines to your brain aren’t transmitted accurately.

Severe infection and changes to the microbes naturally found in your intestines can also trigger IBS symptoms. People who have IBS may have different bacteria, fungi, and viruses in their guts than people who don’t have it.

Risk factors for IBS

Anyone can develop IBS. Most people experience digestive issues from time to time, but a few factors could increase your risk of chronic IBS, including:

There is some evidence that experiencing extreme stress or trauma in childhood or being a victim of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse could increase your risk of IBS.

IBS treatment options

There’s no cure for IBS, but treatment can make a significant difference and help you live a more normal life. Learning and avoiding triggers is a key part of your IBS treatment plan. 

The two biggest triggers of IBS symptoms are stress and certain foods. Foods like wheat, dairy, beans, or carbonated drinks, can make symptoms worse, so avoiding your triggers can keep symptoms to a minimum.

Mild to moderate symptoms can improve with healthy stress management and adjusting your lifestyle. Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating high-fiber foods can keep IBS at bay. Always remember to drink plenty of water.

You don’t have to live with the discomfort of IBS. Find out more about your treatment options for abdominal pain and schedule a consultation with Dr. Klause. Contact our San Clemente, California, office at 949-393-2595 or request an appointment online now.

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