The most frequent symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, bloating, and a feeling of discomfort, but symptoms can vary a great deal from one person to the next. Some men and women have constipation with IBS, while others have diarrhea.
Many patients have both constipation and diarrhea at different times. Any of these symptoms may disappear for a time, only to return, or they may never go away — and even worsen over time.
Researchers have yet to find a single cause for IBS, but your immune system may be involved. It’s also possible that your large intestine may be particularly sensitive to certain foods, or stress. Bacteria in your small intestine, a condition called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), has been the most recent area of study for IBS causes, although results are mixed.
IBS sufferers may have a colon that temporarily stops working, or that works intermittently. Food may move too slowly through your colon and cause constipation, or it can move too quickly and result in diarrhea.
There is no single test for IBS, so diagnosis normally begins with a physical examination, a complete medical history, and a discussion of your symptoms. Blood tests, stool samples, and X-rays may be needed to rule out other conditions. Dr. Shamsi might want to perform a colonoscopy to further evaluate your colon.
If no other cause for your symptoms is found, an IBS diagnosis may be based on how frequently the discomfort has shown up during the past year. Dr. Shamsi could consider the appearance and disappearance of pain that accompanies bowel movements, as well as changes in frequencies and nature of your bowel movements, to get a diagnosis.
There is no single drug or cure for IBS, so treatment may focus on reducing or eliminating particular symptoms of the condition. Medications to help with constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal pain may be prescribed, or a combination that includes antidepressants might be beneficial.
A course of antibiotics can improve IBS for months to years. Dr. Shamsi has found great success treating his patients with IBS with this treatment plan. He’ll help you figure out exactly what works for your specific needs.
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