Here’s what you need to know about IBS

By John Aita, Gastroenterologist at PeaceHealth Medical Group

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in a November report, between 25 and 45 million people in the U.S. are impacted by the side effects of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

IBS can make life uncomfortable. However, this chronic condition is very common and can be managed – it doesn’t have to interfere with your daily activities.

IBS can be brought about by various factors and affected by the complex relationship of the intestinal microbiota, or tiny organisms in the gut, with the gut-brain axis – signals between the gut and brain.

Symptoms include abdominal pain or discomfort associated with defecation, change in frequency of the stool, or a change in form or consistency of the stool. See your primary care provider or a gastroenterologist to discuss your symptoms and exclude red flag symptoms.

Once you get a firm diagnosis, you can set about managing IBS for the long term. One way to manage it is to modify your diet. Certain foods may trigger digestive issues for people with IBS.

Another way to manage IBS is to learn ways of handling or reducing the stress in your life. About 30 percent of one’s immune system is in the gastrointestinal tract, and stress of any kind can ultimately influence this system to trigger IBS-like symptoms.

Your provider may also recommend certain medications for treating IBS symptoms.

To learn more about IBS, visit peacehealth.org/medical-topics/id/hw117851.

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