Despite what lovers of Mexican and Indian food think, we know irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not determined by what someone ate the night before. True irritable bowel syndrome is a serious and debilitating disease that affects more than 57 million people nationwide, most of them women. One of the biggest challenges of this disease is getting the right diagnosis and then having the discipline to make the lifestyle changes necessary for controlling the issue. In honor of IBS awareness month, we’d like to share more about diagnosing this disease and what changes you can make to get it under control.
Difficult to Diagnose
The biggest issue in diagnosing IBS is that the symptoms are not the same in everyone and may even vary within individuals. IBS, unlike most other chronic conditions, isn’t usually constant either. This means that people have flare-ups every now-and-then and each flare-up may be different. So, how does someone figure out if what they are experiencing is IBS or simply a bad reaction to a specific food? In general, there are three different types of IBS: IBS with diarrhea, IBS with constipation, and IBS with alternating diarrhea and constipation. No matter what type someone has, we know it isn’t fun and when it flares up, it can ruin the day.
When to See a Doctor
So, if there is no rhyme or reason to when symptoms show up or what those symptoms are, how does someone know when it’s time to see a Kansas City health professional? Stomach problems are usually indicative of IBS when they become severe and include things like blood in the stool, weight loss, and pain that isn’t relieved after passing gas or using the bathroom. In cases like these, we think it is always a good idea to see a doctor since these symptoms can also indicate more severe problems.
Small Changes and Big Results
The first, and least invasive, approach to IBS is to try managing it with changes in diet and exercise. Since most IBS sufferers can’t seem to pinpoint irritating foods, the general rule with diet is to eat foods that are healthy for the gastrointestinal tract. Some of these foods include things that are high in fiber and low in fat like berries, and foods that have probiotics like yogurt. In the same vein, exercise has been proven to help lower stress levels and decrease the severity and regularity of symptoms. Something as simple as walking for 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week can really help regulate IBS.