Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that causes abdominal pain and a change in bowel habits. The severity of IBS symptoms varies but for many may affect the quality of life. Nelson Tajong, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist at Lakeside Gastroenterology in Conroe and The Woodlands, Texas, who provides patient-centered and evidence-based care for those struggling to manage their irritable bowel syndrome. Call the office nearest you or book an appointment online today.

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What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a long-term gastrointestinal disorder that causes disturbances in gut function, motility, and sensation. Your brain controls these gut-related functions, and IBS may develop due to problems with how your brain and gut communicate.

These communication problems may alter how your gut muscles work or make your gut more sensitive to changes, causing the symptoms associated with IBS.

You may be at greater risk of developing IBS if it runs in your family. Stressful life events or a severe infection in your digestive tract may also trigger the gastrointestinal disorder.

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms usually include abdominal pain associated with bowel movements and a change in bowel habits. People with IBS may have bouts of diarrhea, constipation, or both.

Bloating, gas, and mucus in the stool are also common symptoms in people with IBS.

The severity and frequency of these IBS symptoms vary from person to person. However, IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder, and your symptoms may come and go.

How is irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed?

There’s no single test to diagnose IBS. When you visit Lakeside Gastroenterology with concerns about abdominal pain and change in bowel habits, your gastroenterologist conducts a comprehensive exam to find the root cause of your symptoms.

In most cases, your gastroenterologist diagnoses IBS after completing a comprehensive history and physical and a review of your symptoms. Though not always needed, your provider may run diagnostic tests, such as a blood test, stool test, or colonoscopy, to rule out other conditions.

How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?

Your provider at Lakeside Gastroenterology customizes your IBS treatment plan based on the type, frequency, and severity of your symptoms.

However, your gastroenterologist may first recommend diet changes to manage your symptoms, such as adding more fiber and fluid to alleviate constipation or avoiding certain foods that increase abdominal pain and bloating.

For moderate to severe IBS, your gastroenterologist may recommend medications to manage your symptoms, such as anti-diarrheal medication, laxatives, or antispasmodics (for abdominal pain).

You may also benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), stress management, or regular exercise.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition that causes a wide range of symptoms. To get help managing your IBS, call Lakeside Gastroenterology or book an appointment online today.