Often misunderstood, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal condition that deserves more attention.
You’re plagued with sudden and unexplained stomach cramps. You feel anxious when you know you’ll be without a bathroom for an extended period of time, so you travel to work using the route that has the most public bathrooms. If this sounds like you, there’s a chance you’re dealing with IBS.
Plenty of mystery surrounding IBS remains, but one thing is certain: It’s a very real medical condition that affects approximately 15.3 million people in the United States. Research over the last 10 years suggests that IBS may be the result of intestines with a higher level of sensitivity—a condition that can lead to miscommunication between the brain and intestines.
Even though IBS does not permanently harm your body or lead to more dangerous diseases such as cancer, it can have a major impact on your comfort and quality of life. Fortunately, the condition can be treated as long as you recognize when you are experiencing the symptoms.
Unraveling the Mystery
The symptoms of IBS are not terribly unique. For example, the big four are:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
While most of us experience these symptoms on occasion, the regular presence of some or all of these symptoms is a big indicator of the presence of IBS.
Minor cases of IBS can often be resolved with small changes in diet, over-the-counter medications and managing stress. However, for people with moderate to severe IBS, other options may need to be considered.
If your IBS symptoms aren’t going away and are impacting the quality of your life, be sure to see a doctor so that you can learn about all available treatment options. To schedule a screening with our board-certified gastroenterologist, call (618) 998-7239.