Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Centers for Digestive Health

Gastroenterology located in Highland, IN, Merrillville, IN, Gary, IN, DeMotte, IN, Crown Point, IN & Dyer, IN

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes chronic or recurring abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and other distressing symptoms. If you're struggling to manage your IBS, the experienced gastroenterologists at the Centers for Digestive Health can help. The practice has offices in Highland, Merrillville, Gary, Dyer, Crown Point, and DeMotte, Indiana, where the team provides a personalized treatment plan that helps you get IBS under control. To find out how they can relieve IBS, call today or book an appointment online.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Q&A

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that causes a variety of unpleasant digestive symptoms in your large intestine.

Irritable bowel syndrome can be distressing and painful and have a significant impact on your quality of life. However, people with IBS don't suffer intestinal damage, and the condition doesn't pose a threat to your life.

IBS sometimes gets confused with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) due to the similar-sounding names. While they share some of the same symptoms, unlike IBS, IBD can cause long-lasting and extensive intestinal damage that could have life-limiting consequences.

What symptoms does irritable bowel syndrome cause?

While patients often experience different combinations of problems, common irritable bowel syndrome symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or both
  • Excessive gas
  • Mucousy stools

When you have IBS, it's common to find the severity of your symptoms goes through cycles. Therefore, you might have periods when IBS is causing significant pain and disability, and others where you have minimal problems or are symptom-free.

What causes irritable bowel syndrome?

So far, research hasn't identified the exact cause of IBS. However, certain risk factors increase your chances of developing irritable bowel syndrome. These risk factors include:

  • Family history of IBS 
  • Having SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Inflammation in the intestines
  • Nervous system abnormalities
  • Weak intestinal muscle contractions
  • Chronic stress

Many people with IBS find their symptoms worsen as a result of certain triggers. Your triggers are unique to you, but common ones include specific food and hormone level changes.

How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?

Irritable bowel syndrome is currently incurable, but the Centers for Digestive Health team offers personalized treatment plans that help to minimize IBS symptoms.

Medications can address specific IBS problems such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. These medications include:

  • Alosetron
  • Eluxadoline
  • Linaclotide
  • Rifaximin
  • Lubiprostone

You may find you can manage your irritable bowel syndrome without needing medication by making changes to your lifestyle. IBS symptoms often respond well to a healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep habits, and stress reduction measures. Identifying your irritable bowel syndrome triggers also helps, so you can avoid them wherever possible.

In addition, a low-FODMAP diet can be beneficial. FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) are sugars in food that the body finds more difficult to absorb. FODMAP foods often aggravate IBS, so going on a low-FODMAP diet can lead to significant symptom reduction.

If you have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or you know you have IBS but are struggling to manage it effectively, the Centers for Digestive Health can help. Call the nearest office or book an appointment online today.