Tummy Pain or IBS: Know the Dif­fer­ence

Q & A sheds light on IBS

Wellness Update - - Contents -

It can be dif­fi­cult to know the dif­fer­ence be­tween a reg­u­lar stom­ach ache and some­thing you should talk about with your doc­tor. Re­peated stom­ach is­sues could be a symp­tom of ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS). Read this brief Q&A to learn more.

Q I’m hav­ing di­ges­tive is­sues. Could it be ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome?

Ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS) is a prob­lem that af­fects the large in­tes­tine, also known as the bowel, and can cause cramp­ing, bloat­ing, gas, di­ar­rhea and con­sti­pa­tion. IBS can be painful, but it does not cause dam­age. Its cause is un­known.

Q How do I know I have IBS?

Your doc­tor will give you a phys­i­cal exam and ask for your com­plete med­i­cal his­tory. He or she may want a blood test, stool sam­ples or an X-ray of the bowel, and might also want to per­form two pro­ce­dures that are more com­pli­cated: a flex­i­ble sig­moi­doscopy, which ex­am­ines the large in­testines for rec­tal bleed­ing or polyps, and a colonoscopy, which looks for ab­nor­mal­i­ties in the colon.

Q What can I do?

Changes in diet can re­duce symp­toms of IBS. Avoid caf­feine and limit milk prod­ucts. Eat more fiber, drink three to four glasses of wa­ter daily, avoid smok­ing, and get more ex­er­cise. Emo­tional dis­tress also has been known to cause symp­toms of IBS.

Q Is there a cure?

There is no cure for IBS, but avoid­ing food trig­gers and man­ag­ing stress can greatly re­duce symp­toms.

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