Do You Have IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a long-term health problem that can affect your daily routines and relationships if not treated properly. It is not a serious disease, but there are steps you can take to minimize your symptoms. While researchers are still unsure about what causes IBS, 12% of Americans have been diagnosed with this functional gastrointestinal disorder. If you frequently experience extreme abdominal discomfort or irregular bowel movements, you may have IBS. If you encounter any of the symptoms listed below, it’s time to contact us at Gastroenterology Consultants of Savannah.
Warning Signs in the Abdomen
There are several symptoms of IBS that occur in the abdomen. These warning signs should not be ignored.
- Pain & Cramps: If you feel pain or cramping in your lower abdomen, you may have IBS. With IBS, the brain and gut do not communicate well and the muscles in your gut contract more than they should. The frequent muscle contraction can cause a painful sensation.
- Bloating: When gas collects in your gut, your abdomen can feel and appear more full and round.
- FODMAP Sensitivity: FODMAP is the acronym for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols. These are specific types of carbohydrates that often lead to irritation and inflammation in your gut. When you’re sensitive to FODMAPs, the bacteria in your gut can cause the water from these foods to ferment leading to excessive gas. High-FODMAP foods include onions, garlic, avocado, beans, lentils, almonds, and cashews.
- Excessive Gas: The specific reason people with IBS often feel gassier is unknown. One theory states that bacteria in the gut produce toxins which lead to gas. Another theory is that those with IBS have a gut that does not tolerate or transport gas effectively.
Warning Signs from Bowel Movements
During a normal bowel movement, your gut contracts and relaxes in a steady, evenly paced manner. However, with IBS, this normal rhythm is disrupted which can lead to diarrhea or constipation. Depending on which symptom you experience most, you can be diagnosed as either constipation-predominant or diarrhea-predominant IBS.
- Diarrhea: When your gut muscles contract frequently, you experience diarrhea. This is one of the most common symptoms of IBS. Diarrhea is often accompanied by muscle cramps.
- Constipation: When your gut muscles do not contract as often as they should, you are constipated. Constipation can also be determined by having less than three bowel movements in one week or having pain and difficulty passing a stool.
Other Warning Signs
IBS doesn’t just affect your intestines, it can negatively impact other parts of your body and your mental capacity.
- Joint Pain: Those with IBS are more likely to experience joint pain. The specific reason is still unclear, but perhaps this is because there is increased inflammation in your body.
- Fatigue: One of the most common symptoms of IBS is feeling overly tired and fatigued, although research has yet to pinpoint why.
- Brain Fog: Difficulty concentrating, impaired judgment, mental confusion, and foggy thinking are symptoms of IBS. This indicates the profound relationship between the brain and the gut.
- Stress: The nervous system controls your gut and responds to psychological stress which strengthens the link between feeling stressed and seeing an increase in symptoms. When you are stressed, your IBS symptoms may become worse. Or, when your IBS symptoms worsen, you feel stressed.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you may have IBS. This condition can be treated, giving you the relief you crave. To learn more about IBS and treatment opportunities, make an appointment with us at Gastroenterology Consultants of Savannah today.