Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The never-ending upset stomach

April 10, 2017 | by Alison Sage, D.O.
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Everyone experiences an upset stomach from time to time. It’s not pleasant, and you become way more familiar with your bathroom than you’d like. But it passes.

When Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a player, it’s like the upset stomach won’t end. It keeps coming back. Every. Day.

To make matters worse, the symptoms – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation – aren’t predictable. IBS can wreak havoc in people’s personal and professional lives.

IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. The exact cause isn’t known.

Factors that trigger the symptoms of IBS are different for each person. Common triggers include these, described by Mayo Clinic:

  • Foods. The role of food allergy or intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome is not yet clearly understood, but many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. A wide range of foods has been implicated — chocolate, spices, fats, fruits, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, milk, carbonated beverages and alcohol to name a few.
  • Stress. Most people with IBS find that their signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress, such as finals week or the first weeks on a new job. But while stress may aggravate symptoms, it doesn't cause them.
  • Hormones. Because women are twice as likely to have IBS, researchers believe that hormonal changes play a role in this condition. Many women find that signs and symptoms are worse during or around their menstrual periods.
  • Other illnesses. Sometimes another illness, such as an acute episode of infectious diarrhea (gastroenteritis) or too many bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth), can trigger IBS.

If you’re having stomach trouble, it isn’t always clear that IBS is the cause. The symptoms could mean a number of things.

That’s why it’s important to see your doctor if your bathroom habits are changing. Young females are more likely to have IBS – about 2 out of 3 people with the syndrome are female, and most are younger than 50.

Only 1 in 5 people with IBS seek medical treatment, according to Mayo Clinic. But more people should. While IBS is not curable, there are ways to ease the symptoms. Dietary changes and medication can work wonders for people with IBS. You can take control of your gut again!

The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you’ll feel better. Learn more about our gastrointestinal services.

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