IBS: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon).  Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, gas and diarrhea.  Though the exact cause of IBS is not known, researchers believe that the symptoms could originate from a disturbance in the way the gut and brain interact with each other.   A troubled intestine will send signals to the brain just as a troubled brain will send signals to the gut.  For example, an upset stomach or intestinal issues could be the result of anxiety, depression or stress.

IBS affects between 25 and 45 million Americans, with women being twice as likely to suffer from it than men. What is perhaps the most frustrating for those that are afflicted with IBS is the fact that it is incredibly unpredictable. The symptoms can be contradictory – a sufferer will often alternate between constipation and diarrhea.  Due to the unpredictability, those with IBS often report that the quality of their professional and personal lives deteriorates.

Unfortunately, getting an official diagnosis of IBS can often take years. And while treatment is available, few seek medical care for their symptoms.  It is critical that those that have a persistent change in their bowel habits seek medical help, as it could be a sign of a more serious condition like colon cancer.  Those who do seek treatment for IBS will find that it varies.  Some people can manage symptoms by changing their diet and stress levels.  For those with more severe symptoms, medications and counseling may be necessary.

The most important thing is to realize that there are options and treatments for IBS.  If you’re experiencing any symptoms, AppleCare physicians will be happy to consult you on your next steps to find wellness.