Could you have IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic, functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. It isn’t yet known exactly why some people develop IBS, but some experts think IBS may stem from a problem in the way the brain and the gut interact. Additionally, people with IBS tend to have triggers that cause a flare-up of symptoms. If you’ve been experiencing unusual gastrointestinal issues, or if you go to the Emergency Room for severe abdominal pain, the physicians at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center are here to help you reclaim your quality of life.

Common symptoms of IBS
IBS is often confused as being the same as inflammatory bowel disease, but these are two different diagnoses. Unlike IBD, IBS doesn’t cause inflammatory responses or any permanent damage to the digestive system. However, it can cause the following painful and uncomfortable symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Gas and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mucus in stool
  • Sensation of having an incomplete bowel movement
  • Bowel urgency
  • Loose stools
  • Abdominal pain that resolves after a bowel movement

If you experience gastrointestinal symptoms that are severe or that linger, it’s time to talk to your doctor. You can also start keeping a written record of which symptoms you experience, when they occur and what might possibly trigger them.

Possible triggers of IBS symptoms
Patients with IBS often find that eliminating trigger foods from their diet improves their management of the symptoms. Some common trigger foods include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy products
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Wheat
  • Citrus fruits
  • Beans

It’s also thought that stress can make already existing symptoms worse.

Diagnostic steps to identify IBS
Diagnosing IBS can be tricky because there’s no one test that can definitively indicate this disorder. However, your doctor can perform a physical exam, review your medical history and discuss your symptoms.

A diagnosis of IBS is generally made if a patient experiences stomach pain for at least three days per week for at least three months. Additionally, a patient must show at least two other symptoms, such as pain that resolves after a bowel movement or pain that began when bowel habits changed.

You’ll find the compassionate, personalized care you need at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center. Our state-of-the-art hospital in Thousand Oaks maintains a longstanding tradition of healthcare excellence across all of our service lines. A registered nurse is available to take your general healthcare questions at (877) 888-5746.