Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Everything To Know


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) issues. While the term is frequently heard, not many know what it is precisely or its associated symptoms. There are a wide variety of gastrointestinal issues to distinguish from one another. Learn here the identifying factors of this disorder and how it can be treated. 

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a large intestine (colon) disorder, although it involves other parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Although this disorder can cause problems for your digestive tract, no disease is present in the colon. According to Cleveland Clinic, IBS is a functional GI disorder. Conditions such as IBS are a malfunction of the gut-brain interaction, causing sensitivity to your gastrointestinal tract. 

IBS can also be referred to as “spastic colon, spastic colitis, mucous colitis, and nervous or functional bowel.” There is more than one type of IBS; the different types relate to the symptoms and bowel movements an individual experiences. These variables categorize as: 

  • Diarrhea Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-D)
  • Constipation Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-C)
  • Alternating (or Mixed) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-A/IBS-M)

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Research shows that 7-16% of Americans have irritable bowel syndrome. Some people have more severe symptoms than others. Aside from irregular bowel movements, other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include: 

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

People with IBS may likely experience some pain, especially in the abdominal area. However, if the pain remains severe after a bowel movement, it could indicate a more serious colon condition and you should contact a doctor immediately.

Triggers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The exact cause of IBS is unknown; however, there are a few triggers that stand out. Seeing how irritable bowel syndrome results from a gut-brain interaction, stress and anxiety can be huge triggers. Research shows that “the most common mental ailment people have with IBS is generalized anxiety.” Anxiety and stress affect your nervous system, which links to your digestive system. If you’re dealing with anxiety or other mental ailments, it’s important to find a remedy to help you cope, whether it’s exercise, relaxing activities, or medication.  

Certain foods can also be triggers for IBS. It varies for each individual, but these foods are frequently associated with this digestive disorder: 

  • Alcohol
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Cauliflower
  • Chocolate
  • High-fat foods
  • Milk
  • Raw fruits
  • Spicy foods

Tracking which foods result in irritable bowel syndrome symptoms will make it easier to determine foods to avoid.

How to Treat IBS

There is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome, so treatment is focused on alleviating or reducing symptoms. If you are aware of specific foods that result in symptoms, it’s best to remove those from your diet. If adjusting your diet does not work, attempt home remedies before jumping to medication. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine has been found effective. Staying active can help manage stress and anxiety while putting your bowels on a regular movement schedule. 

At Wake Endoscopy Center, we also recommend incorporating more fiber into your diet and switching to smaller, more frequent meals. If these lifestyle changes don’t bring a positive change, antispasmodic medications are available to help relax the muscles in the colon’s wall. 

Contact a Gastroenterologist

All of our providers at Wake Endoscopy Center are equipped to help patients manage their irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. If you’re struggling with this digestive disorder, contact us at (919) 783-4888 for further assistance.