Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects 10-15% of the United States population. It causes symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements.
While some individuals are well aware of their IBS, it’s possible to be living with it and not even know. At Imperial Digestive Health Specialists PLLC in Katy, Texas, our expert team, led by our board-certified physician who specializes in treating various digestive diseases, Dr. Oforbuike Ewelukwa, offers guidance on how to recognize the signs of IBS and how to manage it.
IBS is a chronic digestive disorder that can significantly impact your quality of life. It's a functional disorder, which means it doesn't have a known structural or biochemical cause but is instead characterized by symptoms related to the functioning of your digestive system.
The exact cause of IBS isn’t fully understood, but factors like diet, stress, and abnormalities in the gut may contribute to its development.
Symptoms of IBS
The symptoms of IBS can vary widely from person to person. They can also overlap with other digestive conditions. This variability and overlap can make it challenging to diagnose IBS.
Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Bloating and gas
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Changes in bowel habits
- Mucus in your stool
During your evaluation, let Dr. Ewelukwa know about any type of digestive issues you’re having.
Could you have IBS and not know it?
Yes, it’s possible. Several factors can contribute to this lack of awareness, such as:
You may have relatively mild symptoms that you attribute to occasional digestive discomfort rather than a chronic condition.
IBS symptoms can overlap with other gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, or food intolerances. Without a proper diagnosis, you may not realize you have IBS.
Stress and lifestyle
High stress levels or a busy lifestyle can cause you to overlook or dismiss your digestive symptoms as stress-related or transient issues.
Fear of seeking help
You may be hesitant to seek medical attention for digestive issues, assuming that your symptoms aren’t severe enough to warrant a doctor's visit.
Lack of awareness
If you’re not well-informed about IBS, you may not recognize the symptoms when you experience them.
How IBS is diagnosed
IBS is diagnosed through a process of exclusion. After ruling out other gastrointestinal conditions, we consider your symptoms. Diagnostic criteria, such as the Rome criteria, may also be used to confirm the presence of IBS.
Additional tests, like stool studies or colonoscopy, may be performed if necessary to rule out other potential causes of similar symptoms. Our comprehensive evaluation and learning of your medical history can help us achieve an accurate IBS diagnosis.
Why it's important to recognize and manage IBS
If left unmanaged, IBS can significantly impact your quality of life. It can lead to missed workdays, social isolation, and emotional distress. When you recognize and manage IBS, you can improve your overall comfort and well-being.
Our team can give you the guidance you need. For example, we can help you identify triggers, advise on making dietary adjustments, provide stress reduction techniques, and help you prevent complications like malnutrition, dehydration, and the development of other gastrointestinal disorders.
Our goal is to help you lead a better quality of life, so you can enjoy social activities and daily routines without constant worry about digestive discomfort.
If you suspect you may have IBS, reach out to our team as soon as possible. We can provide a proper diagnosis and develop a management plan tailored to your specific needs.
Call us at 832-639-5725 today, or book an appointment online anytime, day or night.