Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal condition, that can cause different symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. IBS is a chronic condition, and the exact cause of this disorder is not known. However, IBS does not cause changes in the bowel tissue or increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
IBS treatment focuses on reducing the severity and frequency of the symptoms. The first line of treatment includes changes to the diet and managing stress, since IBS symptoms can worsen or get triggered due to these factors.
Your doctor may ask you to keep a journal of what you eat and when you experience symptoms. This can help to identify foods that contribute to your symptoms. Some common trigger foods are –
- fried foods
- carbonated drinks
- the artificial sweetener sorbitol
- some vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli
A dietitian can help you follow a customized diet so that you can get proper nutrition, but avoid foods that trigger or worsen your IBS symptoms.
Exercise, psychotherapy, and relaxation practices may reduce stress and anxiety that causes symptoms to flare up in many patients.
If lifestyle changes don’t offer enough relief, prescription or over-the-counter medications may be recommended by your doctor. These may include –
- anti-diarrheal medications
- anti-spasmodic medications to reduce abdominal pain and cramping
- tricyclic or SSRI antidepressants to reduce abdominal pain and treat the symptoms of depression that many IBS patients experience
If you have IBS with diarrhea, or IBS-D, your medications may include –
- Alosetron– to reduce both diarrhea and abdominal pain by blocking signals that send sensory information to the intestines
- Rifaximin – to decrease diarrhea and bloating by reducing the bacteria in the intestinal tract
- Eluxadoline- to reduce abdominal pain and diarrhea by reducing bowel contractions
If you have IBS with constipation, your medications may include –
- Lubiprostone– to reduce constipation and abdominal pain by promoting muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal tract
- Linaclotide – to reduce pain signals in the intestines and aid the movement of food through the digestive tract
Not all treatments work for all IBS patients. Hence, your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan to addresses your specific symptoms and the severity of your condition. You may have to try several different treatment options to see what works best for you and adjust your treatment with time if symptoms change.
Don’t go on enduring the pain and discomfort of IBS. See a doctor immediately.