Irritable bowel syndrome is more than just an upset stomach or a case of diarrhea. IBS is a medical condition that must be diagnosed by a medical professional. According to the Mayo Clinic, 1 in 5 Americans experience symptoms associated with IBS, but fewer than 1 in 5 people who experience these symptoms seek medical help. It’s important to know when to seek help for IBS.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition that affects the colon. IBS can affect people of all ages. It’s possible to be symptom free for extended periods of time, but irritable bowel syndrome is typically considered a life-long disorder.
IBS symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, bloating, gas, or changes in stool. These symptoms can be uncomfortable, and in severe cases may interfere with normal daily activities. Most people find that their symptoms can be controlled through diet, stress reduction, and in some cases medication or counseling.
IBS does not increase your risk for colon cancer, and it does not damage bowel tissue. But while irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t cause, or increase the risk for, colon cancer, IBS can coexist with other disorders.
It’s important to know when to seek additional medical attention for IBS.
When should you seek medical care for IBS?
If you haven’t yet talked to your doctor about IBS symptoms, you should do so. A doctor can provide a diagnosis, or help you manage your symptoms. While many learn to live with irritable bowel syndrome, it’s important to know when you should seek additional medical attention.
Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
- Chest pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Loss of vision
- Persistent fever
- New symptoms starting around age 50
- Blood in stool
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty focusing or changes in behavior
- Early satiety, or feeling full much sooner than normal when eating
- Symptoms, such as worsening abdominal pain, that keep you awake at night
- Rapid, unexplained, or unintentional weight loss
- Changes in IBS symptoms
You should also consider talking to a doctor if you have a personal or family history of gastrointestinal disorders. Schedule an appointment with a MANA physician today.