Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not a disease, but a disorder that can interfere with the normal functions of the GI tract, stomach or colon. Westmed wants to bring continued awareness for this functional disorder because of the discomfort it causes patients and due to its prevalence in our society. Did you know that an estimated 10% to 15% of people in the U.S. are affected by IBS? The syndrome is more common in women, particularly in the child-bearing years, than men.
Despite IBS’ uncomfortable symptoms, many people remain undiagnosed and unaware that their symptoms indicate a medically recognized disorder that can be treated. “Typically, patients with IBS have had their symptoms for several months,” says Dr. Hashem Hashem, Westmed gastroenterologist. “Those who are afraid of undergoing tests should be reassured that IBS can usually be diagnosed by taking a medical history and performing a physical examination. Sometimes simple blood tests are also necessary, but rarely is invasive testing required.”
People with IBS are generally more sensitive and react to things that might not bother other people. Common food “triggers” of IBS can be green or red onions, red peppers, milk, red wine and wheat. Stressful events can aggravate symptoms.
The main symptom of IBS is chronic abdominal pain or discomfort, typically experienced along with a change in stool frequency and/or form – diarrhea and/or constipation. The pain is often relieved by having a bowel movement and can be worsened after eating.
Complications arise when symptoms flare up unexpectedly and can change over time or from day to day. Other symptoms include bloating, gas or a feeling of urgency.
Effective coping strategies can help patients to successfully manage–and sometimes prevent–IBS symptoms. Some strategies include medical treatment, dietary guidelines, support groups, relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes.
“Some medication can certainly help with IBS depending upon whether constipation or diarrhea is predominant,” says Dr. Hashem. Patients can discuss these options as well as at-home dietary and lifestyle changes with their gastroenterologist.
If you think you may have IBS,make an appointment with your gastroenterologist today. We hope to work together on a treatment plan that best fits your needs.
For more information on Westmed’s Gastroenterology Department services and physicians in Purchase and Yonkers, NY and in Norwalk, CT, go to: https://www.westmedgroup.com/services/gastroenterology/overview