5 Signs You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The symptoms of IBS can be embarrassing, but you don't have to suffer in silence. IBS is more common than you think, especially in women under age 45. In fact, one in 10 people have IBS symptoms, but only half have been diagnosed with the disorder. Could you be one of them?
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition caused by problems in the large intestine. The symptoms of IBS may be constant, or they can come and go. There may even be times when it seems your tummy woes have disappeared. Then IBS symptoms flare up again.
Symptoms of IBS
- Abdominal Pain - The most common complaint among people with IBS is abdominal pain or cramping. The discomfort frequently starts shortly after eating and may go away after a bowel movement. But that is not always the case.
- Diarrhea or Constipation - Bouts of diarrhea and constipation, or sometimes fluctuating between the two states, are other common symptoms. People with IBS often feel they need to stay home or near a bathroom for these reasons.
- Bloating - IBS can cause stomach swelling to the point you can't fit into your normal clothes. So if you find yourself reaching for elastic-waist pants after eating, it could be a sign of IBS.
- Excessive Gas - Perhaps the most disturbing symptom of IBS is uncontrollable gassiness. Publicly passing gas can be humiliating. Fear of "letting one go," or discomfort from suppressing a necessary biological function, can make socializing difficult.
- Mucus in Stool - It is normal to pass a small amount of mucus in your stool. However, people who have IBS may notice increased amounts of mucus in their stool.
Concerned you might have IBS? If you have been experiencing digestive distress three times per month for three months, or you've been suffering from symptoms for at least six months, talk to your doctor.
The exact cause of IBS is not known, however, it's clear that multiple factors play a role, such as:
- Certain foods
- Increased stress levels
- Fluctuating hormones during menstrual cycles
- Depression and other mental health conditions
Doctors can't diagnose IBS with a test, however, certain exams may help rule out other diseases like colon cancer. Tests may include:
You should see your primary doctor or a doctor specializing in gastrointestinal services if you are experiencing IBS symptoms. Many people manage symptoms using the top tactics for relieving IBS. Treatments like nutritional counseling, lifestyle adjustments and medication can make a big difference. With the appropriate medical care, you can live a healthy, normal life, without pain.
- National Institute of Health – Irritable Bowel Syndrome: https://medlineplus.gov/irritablebowelsyndrome.html
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases – Irritable Bowel Syndrome: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes
- Mayo Clinic – Irritable Bowel Syndrome: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/basics/symptoms/con-20024578
- Mayo Clinic - Mucus in Stool: http://www.mayoclinic.org/mucus-in-stool/expert-answers/faq-20058262