Could your frequent bouts of diarrhea and abdominal pain be signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Roswell, GA, gastroenterologist Dr. Melvin Bullock discusses the disorder and shares information about treatment options.
What is irritable bowel syndrome?
IBS affects an estimated 25 to 45 million people in the U.S., many of them women, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. The disorder affects the large bowel and causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms including:
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty emptying your bowels completely
Pain and cramping can often be relieved by having a bowel movement. Unfortunately, the urge to go often happens quickly, forcing IBS suffers to familiarize themselves with the locations of public restrooms everywhere they go. Some people only experience diarrhea or constipation, while others deal with alternating bouts of both diarrhea and constipation.
If you have IBS, you may find that your symptoms are worse after you eat certain foods. Eating large meals may also trigger cramps, gas, and diarrhea.
What causes IBS?
Although the cause of IBS often isn't known, you may be more likely to develop the disorder if:
- You are female: Hormones appear to play a role in IBS.
- Other family members have IBS: The disorder tends to run in some families.
- You had an infection that caused severe diarrhea: Even one serious gastrointestinal infection in the past can increase your risk of IBS.
- You feel stressed: IBS seems to occur more frequently in people who report feeling stressed. You may also be more likely to develop the disorder if you suffer from a mental health disorder or experienced a traumatic event at some point in your life.
What can I do about IBS symptoms?
There are a few steps you can take on your own to reduce your symptoms, including avoiding foods that trigger your symptoms, staying away from foods that are known to produce gas, exercising regularly, using fiber supplements and reducing stress.
If your symptoms are severe or affect the quality of your life, you may want to visit our Roswell office. In addition to offering advice that will help you manage the disorder, Dr. Bullock may also recommend certain medications that will control pain and bloating, reduce diarrhea and constipation, and help you pass stool more easily.
Help is available for your uncomfortable IBS symptoms. Call Roswell, GA, gastroenterologist Dr. Melvin Bullock at (770) 442-5882 to schedule your appointment.