Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the large intestine (colon) that affects one in 10 people worldwide. IBS is also known as spastic colon, irritable colon, mucous colitis, and spastic colitis. It is a common condition that sees more than 200,000 cases per year in the United States. With IBS, the muscles in the colon may:
Unlike inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, IBS does not result in changes in bowel tissue or increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, IBS can disrupt your daily life and will need to be managed long term.
The causes of IBS are unknown, but there are certain stimuli that may trigger symptoms of IBS. Although triggers may vary from person to person, they often include:
Risk factors for developing IBS include:
Just like triggers vary greatly from patient to patient, so do symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing their diet, lifestyle, and stress levels. Only a small number of people with IBS experience severe symptoms. Common IBS symptoms include:
There is no specific test used to diagnose IBS. Your doctor will likely review your medical history and conduct a physical examination. In some cases, your doctor may order lab tests or perform a diagnostic procedure to rule out other conditions, such as celiac disease or colon cancer. Stool studies, for example, can be used to check for infection or issues with your intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Other tests may include:
Since the cause of IBS is unknown, treatments focus more on relieving symptoms. In the majority of patients, mild symptoms can be fully managed with certain changes in diet and lifestyle. Dietary suggestions may include:
As surgery is not performed for IBS, medication may be required for those with more severe symptoms. Medications may include:
Living with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can be frustrating and challenging. Although there is no cure for IBS, our team of expert gastroenterologists at Digestive Healthcare Center will work directly with you to help control and improve symptoms. We offer a variety of tests and procedures, using state-of-the-art technology and minimally-invasive techniques, to accurately diagnose and treat patients of all ages. We will also ensure that your specific needs are met and your questions are answered throughout your care. Learn more about our services and procedures in NJ below.
Whether you come see us in person at one of our three gastroenterology centers in Somerset County or you speak to one of our board-certified physicians via a telemedicine virtual visit, we make it our mission to provide the best possible gastroenterology care so you can live a healthier and more comfortable life. If you are experiencing symptoms that cause you discomfort or concern, please contact us today to schedule an appointment and get on track to better digestive health.