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What are the Symptoms and Treatments for IBS?

Monday 3 May 2021
IBS

Table of Contents


I. The Function of the Bowel

II. Symptoms of IBS

III. Types of IBS

IV. What Causes IBS?

V. Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

VI. Treatment Options


The Function of the Bowel

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a fairly common condition that affects the stomach. The American College of Gastroenterology reports that ten to 15 percent of people in the United States have IBS. [1] IBS is less serious than other gastrointestinal disorders but has many unpleasant symptoms.

IBS affects the lower gastrointestinal tract, also known as the large intestine. This part of the stomach makes up the colon, rectum, and anus. The function of the lower GI tract is to dehydrate and store fecal material. It also reabsorbs water and salt and helps push stool through the system. Stool moves through the process of peristalsis, which is the involuntary contraction and relaxation of muscles that push stomach contents along the intestines.

If you have this stomach issue, you may be prescribed Xifaxan for IBS as well as Linzess or lubiprostone. Read on to learn more about irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and possible treatment options. [2]

a person holding a sandwich

Symptoms of IBS

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may differ between men and women. Women may have more severe symptoms around the time of their menstruation. Menopausal women have less severe symptoms than menstruating women. Some research suggests that symptoms may also increase during pregnancy. Constipation and diarrhea are some of the most common symptoms. Other general symptoms include:

  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain [3]

Types of IBS

Generally, IBS is categorized into one of three types. Researchers have found that there is an equal number of people with IBS in each category. You are not locked into one type of IBS for your whole life. It is likely that you will alternate types over time. 

IBS-C: IBS with constipation is one of the more common types. You may have IBS-C if you have abnormal bowel movements that are hard or lumpy and loose in consistency 25 percent of the time. You will experience fewer bowel movements overall. This can cause abdominal pain and bloat. 

“don’t panic” written on a toilet paper roll

IBS-D: This type occurs with diarrhea symptoms, which comes with the opposite symptoms of IBS-C. IBS-D is determined if a quarter of your stools are loose. Excessive gas is common with this type.

IBS-M: Mixed IBS signifies mixed bowel habits. This type means that you alternate between constipation and diarrhea. You may alternate between watery and loose stools with this type. [4] 

What Causes IBS?

The gastrointestinal system is a complicated bodily process, so the exact cause of IBS is unknown. In most cases, several factors influence the development of IBS. Some common causes may include:

  • Nervous system issues: Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the GI tract can cause the body to overreact to changes in the digestive process. This can lead to symptoms of gas or stool.
  • Muscle contractions in the intestines: If the peristalsis function of the stomach is not working correctly, stool may move slowly through the intestines.
  • Gut microbe changes: Millions of bacteria in the stomach help digest food and keep the gut healthy. If there is a bacteria overgrowth, you may experience IBS symptoms.
  • Stress: Stress can impede the function of the stomach. If you experienced stress early in life, you are at an increased risk of IBS. [5]

Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

If you suspect that you are experiencing IBS, you should book an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a stool sample to check for infections and the intestine’s ability to get nutrients from food. 

two doctors performing a medical procedure

If you are 50 years or older, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy to check for any gastrointestinal abnormalities. This procedure involves using a small, flexible tube to examine the colon. Your doctor may also do an x-ray to check for intestinal blockage. Along with these procedures, you may also be tested for lactose intolerance and bacterial overgrowth. [5]

Treatment Options

Treating irritable bowel syndrome often requires lifestyle changes as well as medications. Several foods may affect your IBS, so you may need to tailor your diet to avoid foods that may worsen symptoms. Generally, you may want to:

  • Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat high-fiber foods
  • Exercise regularly

Diet changes are a great first step in your IBS treatment. When paired with medications like Linzess, irritable bowel relief can occur. Linzess and lubiprostone help increase fluid secretion in the small intestine, which can help pass stool. Xifaxan may also work to decrease bacterial growth and prevent future diarrhea symptoms. If you are worried about the cost of rifaximin, you can get a discount prescription medication from Canadian Med Center. Talk to your doctor today to determine the right IBS treatment for you. [5]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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