Are Your Digestion Troubles Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

May 10, 2024
Are Your Digestion Troubles Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and belly pain are all signs of irritable bowel syndrome. They’re also symptoms of many other gastrointestinal disorders, so how do you know which condition is causing your troubles? Find out here.

If you frequently experience digestive issues like abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements, you may be wondering if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — or something else. 

Here at Bay Area Gastroenterology Associates, LLC, our team of board-certified gastroenterology experts understand the nuances and complexities of various digestive disorders, including IBS. If you’re struggling with digestive troubles, we encourage you to visit our Trinity, Florida, location to confirm the source of your issues.

In the meantime, here’s a closer look at what IBS is and the signs that you might have it.

What is IBS?

IBS — which affects as many as 15% of Americans — is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. In gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, functional refers to conditions without structural or anatomical abnormalities identified through standard medical tests. 

Instead, abnormalities in your gastrointestinal system characterize these disorders, leading to symptoms of pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.

Functional gastrointestinal disorders are diagnosed based on your symptoms and the absence of other underlying conditions rather than visible abnormalities or disease processes. You may need tests, like endoscopy, to rule out other conditions that create structural abnormalities.

Symptoms of IBS

The main symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person, but commonly include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, often relieved by bowel movements
  • Bloating and gas
  • Changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation, or alternating between the two
  • The feeling of incomplete bowel movements
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement

It's important to note that symptoms can fluctuate over time and may be triggered or exacerbated by factors such as stress, diet, hormonal changes, and medications.

I may have IBS - what do I do?

If you have digestive troubles, consider taking these steps:

Identify your triggers

Consider keeping a food diary to spot any potential IBS triggers. Common dietary IBS triggers include refined grains, high-protein foods, dairy foods, high-fat foods, and carbonated drinks. 

In addition to food, stress and anxiety can also trigger IBS. You can also include a stress meter in your diary to spot any sources of stress. Examples include high-stress careers, a challenging commute, money problems, or problems at home. 

While you may not be able to avoid all stressful situations, some stress management tips can help you cope with your stress better. Healthy habits (such as eating balanced meals and exercising), getting a good night’s sleep, making changes (like changing your commute time to a less stressful time), spending time in nature or on a hobby, and therapy can help reduce stress levels.

Is IBS causing your digestion troubles?

IBS shares many symptoms with other GI disorders, so it’s important to work with Jigneshkumar B. Patel, MD, Kelle C. Degroat, APRN, or Wendi Dinh-Bailey, APRN to confirm the source of your symptoms.  

IBS is typically diagnosed based on a combination of medical history, symptom presentation, endoscopy (to check for signs of damage), and the exclusion of other possible causes (like Crohn’s disease) for the symptoms. 

Dr. Patel can also confirm which type of IBS you have: 

  • IBS-D when IBS presents with chronic diarrhea
  • IBS-C when IBS presents with constipation
  • IBS-M which is a combination of the other two types 

Depending on which type of IBS you have, our team can help you get relief with specific lifestyle changes (including dietary modifications) and medication.

If you’re experiencing abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, call our Trinity, Florida, office to explore your treatment options. You can also contact us online today.