Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that is a source of many myths and fallacies. With all these uncertainties, it's important to take stock of what we do know about IBS. Following is my top 10 list of what everyone with IBS should know about this condition.
- IBS is not colitis. Colitis refers to inflammation of the digestive tract, which does not occur in IBS.
- Symptoms of IBS can include:
- The following are NOT symptoms of IBS, and should be reported to a doctor immediately:
- Blood in the stool.
- Weight loss.
- Severe pain.
- IBS is classified as a functional disorder because there is no evidence of disease on diagnostic tests (such as colonoscopy, or upper GI). A diagnosis of IBS is made only after all other conditions such as infection, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or colon cancer are ruled out.
- IBS does not lead to more serious conditions such as intestinal bleeding or colon cancer.
- Some prescription medicines can help relieve IBS symptoms. It is important to follow your doctors instructions when taking laxatives because they can be habit forming.
- Diet and stress do not cause IBS, but they can be triggers that set off IBS symptoms.
- IBS is not "all in your head"! We now know that IBS is a disorder that causes the colon to be more sensitive to stimulation such as foods or medicines.
- Keeping a food diary can help you and your doctor narrow down your trigger foods so you can avoid them in the future.
- Dietary fiber and eating smaller portions at mealtimes may help decrease IBS symptoms in some people.
There is no cure for IBS, but with a proper diet and some help from your doctor, symptoms can be made more manageable.