Identifying and Easing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a painful condition of the lower digestive tract. Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms can include pain, bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. It is usually diagnosed when other gastrointestinal issues are ruled out.
A colonoscopy should be performed to rule out any physical reasons for the symptoms. An ultrasound of the abdomen may performed as well since many irritable bowel symptoms may mimic gall bladder disease. The doctor will also palpate or feel all around the belly and will note if any areas are painful when touched. He will also listen with a stethoscope to the stomach and bowel regions for unusual sounds. The doctor will also take a detailed medical history and ask about diet.
Very often irritable bowel symptoms are accompanied by discomfort to the belly area and the bowel sounds can be unusually active. Patients may be asked to keep track of what they eat so they may see what foods, if any, seem to trigger symptoms. Since irritable bowel syndrome has no cure, managing symptoms is the only treatment.
Diarrhea can be controlled with both over the counter or prescription medications, but keeping a food diary will help eliminate foods that trigger it. Some adults are lactose intolerant and taking lactase enzymes or probiotic supplements can help. Some patients find that taking general digestive enzymes with meals is helpful. These enzymes are readily available at health and drug stores over the counter. Prescription opiate pain medications can be helpful for diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome.
There has been no evidence that irritable bowel syndrome has causes specifically. Some feel it is emotional, some feel that there is a problem with the way the patient perceives pain and others feel that there is some dysfunction of the nerves of the bowel.
Irritable bowel syndrome treatment can be tricky. The simplest thing to do is to avoid the food triggers. Most irritable bowel patients have symptoms worsened by alcohol, dairy, carbonated beverages, fried food and some vegetables, especially raw. The enzymes may help some with the vegetables and dairy. Cooking vegetables well will help to digest them. If the symptoms are bad enough, total elimination of the offending foods may be necessary, at least temporarily.
There are prescription medications for those with irritable bowel syndrome constipation presentation. It seems that in some people, food simply does not move quickly enough through the digestive system. Medications can be prescribed that speed up the process helping the system move a little faster. Other medications can help by drawing less water back into the body, allowing more water to ease bowel movement.
Some patients with irritable bowel syndrome have resolution of most symptoms with little treatment or treatment for a short period of time. They may have developed it while undergoing a particularly stressful time of their lives.
Every patient is a little different and symptoms vary widely. It is wise to consult a doctor if abdominal pain persists.