If irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is causing you frequent discomfort, you should see a gastroenterologist, particularly if you are over the age of 50, as you may have other digestive issues that should not be ignored. Let’s look at IBS symptoms and what warrants a trip to a gastroenterology clinic.
What Is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a collection of mild, moderate, or severe lower GI (large intestine or bowel) symptoms that come and go. Some of the many millions of American sufferers experience intense flare-ups while others go through remissions of varying lengths.
Common IBS symptoms include:
- Lower abdominal pain
However, as the condition worsens, patients have experienced more intense cramping, bloody stools with or without mucous, poor appetite, and weight loss.
While the exact causes of these distressing symptoms differ from person to person, some commonalities are:
- Increased stress at home or on the job
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Eating fatty or spicy foods
- Drinking carbonated, sugary beverages
- Consuming dairy products
- Maintaining a low fiber diet
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
The providers at your area GI clinic will recommend that you track your symptoms in a journal. Be sure to indicate what seems to worsen or improve symptoms. This information will help your GI specialist determine what testing and treatments would be best for your unique case.
What to Do When IBS Becomes Severe
Sometimes IBS worsens for no reason at all. Research indicates that there may be poor communication between the large intestine and the brain when this occurs.
However, whatever the cause, seek help from your gastroenterologist if you experience these severe IBS symptoms:
- Blood in the stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain, especially at night
- Diarrhea at night
- Very frequent bowel movements
- Pain not alleviated by a bowel movement
- Copious gas
What Your GI Specialist Can Do For You
A gastroenterologist can review your IBS symptoms and other aspects of your medical history. Then, the doctor can order one or more of the following tests to better understand your symptoms and rule out more serious conditions, such as colon cancer.
- A hands-on abdominal and rectal examination
- A stool test for occult (hidden) blood
- X-rays or other kinds of sophisticated imaging
- Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to visualize the rectum and parts of the colon
With the findings, the doctor can prescribe medications and recommend dietary changes and other strategies to calm down your IBS symptoms.
Learn More About IBS By Visiting inSite Digestive Health Care
In the state of California, inSite Digestive Health Care has a wide network of GI specialists who understand the challenges of irritable bowel syndrome. If you’re ready for help, please contact one of our area offices through our online office locator. We have more than 20 practices statewide and numerous gastroenterologists who offer state-of-the-art testing and treatments.
We look forward to helping you optimize your digestive health!