Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest that approximately 5 million people in the United States suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. The disease affects the lower gastrointestinal tract and can cause disturbing and uncomfortable symptoms. The first step in dealing with the disease is diagnosis by a gastroenterologist at a Houston gastroenterology associates clinic.

 Symptoms

Patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, may experience abdominal pain that can be diffuse or localized. Abdominal pain symptoms are sometimes hard to pinpoint as being caused by IBS, because the pain can be dull, it can be in the form of a severe cramp, or it may produce only mild abdominal discomfort. Relaxing will sometimes relieve the abdominal pain. Other symptoms of IBS include mucus in the stool, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis for IBS includes first ruling out organic disease. A Houston gastroenterology clinic will have advanced diagnostic equipment and procedures that can help confirm the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. A procedure known as a colonoscopy, where a small camera is inserted in the large intestine while the patient is under sedation, can help confirm a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. The gastroenterologist has years of medical training and knows the signs and symptoms to look for in diagnosing IBS.

Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with IBS, your doctor may recommend a treatment regimen consisting of medications to treat your most troublesome symptoms along with dietary changes to help manage the disease. There has been no single medication that has been proven to cure IBS long-term. Medications can be prescribed by your doctor to treat the abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, or constipation. Self-treatment, such as dietary changes, can also be helpful in managing your condition. Adding fiber to the diet, along with drinking plenty of water and getting sufficient exercise can help prevent or treat constipation. You should eat your meals slowly in a relaxed environment. This can help eliminate discomfort caused by eating. Foods that contribute to diarrhea such as alcohol, caffeine, beans, broccoli, or cabbage, may have to be avoided.

Living with the Disease

Living with IBS is not easy. It will take some adjustment to your lifestyle. It can be helpful to keep track of your symptoms, recording what you were doing when symptoms occurred. This will help you learn which foods or medications trigger episodes or make symptoms worse. Discuss any of your findings with your doctor to help in treating your condition.

If you have cause to believe you may be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, you should contact a Houston gastroenterology associates clinic for proper diagnosis and treatment. This is the first step to recovery and learning to live with the disease.

Established by Houston gastroenterologist Dr. Barry D. Winston, North Houston Gastroenterology Clinic (NHGC) and Houston Colon Cancer Screening Center (HCCSC) offer the most advanced diagnostic and treatment methods for colorectal cancer screening, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, acid reflux disease, Crohn’s Disease, and more. 

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