Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) refers to a group of gastrointestinal symptoms characterized by abdominal pain and change in bowel function. It is an extremely common health issue impacting patients physically, socially and emotionally. While the cause of IBS is unknown, it does not lead to damage of the intestinal lining or increase the risk of cancer. It can affect patients at any age with many patients dismissing their symptoms as something else.
It’s important for patients to understand the symptoms of IBS to be properly diagnosed and set on a path for managing and living with the condition, including ways to minimize symptoms and discomfort.
Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits – including constipation or diarrhea. Associated symptoms include cramping, bloating, nausea and excessive gas.
These symptoms can be never-ending and greatly affect someone’s daily activities and mood. Patients experiencing any or a combination of these symptoms should visit their doctor to be examined.
To diagnose IBS, doctors may evaluate a patient’s medical history, dietary habits, and lifestyle and conduct a physical examination. In some cases, blood and stool samples may be tested and a colonoscopy or upper endoscopy may be done.
There is no test specifically designed for diagnosing IBS, but doctors are able to test a patient for other conditions that could be causing the same or similar symptoms, such as inflammatory bowel disease or microscopic colitis.
Patients diagnosed with IBS are usually referred to a gastroenterologist who can help them manage their symptoms.
Management typically includes changes in diet, lifestyle and stress levels. Patients who fail to benefit from these adjustments also have the options of medication and mental health counseling. A gastroenterologist can help the patient navigate the best treatment options.
If you are experiencing symptoms of IBS, visit a primary care physician or gastroenterologist to discuss your situation.
UCF Health offers gastroenterology specialty care from its offices in Lake Nona and East Orlando.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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