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IBS Explained

IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that affects the bowel and is characterized by pain in the abdomen, gas, constipation, diarrhea, bouts of nausea, and tiredness.

IBS is a relatively common condition that is difficult to diagnose. It can affect any person at any age, but it is most common in young adults.

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but it is thought to be a disorder of the gut itself.

Symptoms can vary from mild to intense and from person to person. There are a number of treatments, but it can be difficult to find one that works for everyone.

The symptoms of IBS come and go and usually the severity of the symptoms varies too.
The most common symptoms of IBS are:  Abdominal pain or cramping, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.

IBS usually doesn’t have any long-term health consequences, but it does cause a lot of pain.

IBS is a common medical syndrome with significant impact. There is no cure for IBS, but symptoms may be relieved by self-help strategies or medical management.


Symptoms of IBS

The symptoms of IBS come and go and usually the severity of the symptoms varies too.

The most common symptoms of IBS are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Excessive gas
  • Fecal urgency
  • Vomiting

IBS usually doesn’t have any long-term health consequences, but it does cause a lot of pain and discomfort.


Diagnosis of IBS

Before you can treat IBS symptoms effectively, you need to properly diagnose them.

However, diagnosing a person’s condition is not as easy as prescribing a quick fix or putting them under a microscope.

Diagnosing IBS involves not only observing the symptoms but also considering every other physical and mental health factor that may be contributing to the problem.

Diagnosing IBS includes performing several tests, including blood work and other bodily fluids to determine if there are underlying infections or internal illnesses including, but not limited to: Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease and Parasites.

Some common triggers of IBS are cause by:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Allergy
  • Diet

Diagnostic procedures can include:

Laboratory tests can include:

  • Lactose intolerance tests
  • Breath test for bacterial overgrowth
  • Stool tests


Diet for IBS

People with IBS struggle with abdominal pain and frequent stomach upset. A person can have IBS if they have a sensitive gut or a more serious medical condition like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.

Some people might notice that they feel better after taking Imodium or other diarrhea medication.  Doctors still recommend diet changes to help reduce symptoms.

Some experts recommend that people with IBS incorporate soluble fiber into their diet to help decrease symptoms.

Soluble fiber is found in:  oats, rice, barley, figs, prunes, peas, legumes, tomato sauce, and raisins.


IBS Medications

IBS Medications are an essential part of IBS treatment. There are many medications prescribed for IBS.

If your IBS is not well-controlled with lifestyle or dietary changes, your doctor may prescribe one or more of these medications. The three categories of IBS medications are laxatives, antidiarrheal agents, and drugs for pain relief.

Laxatives are often prescribed for constipation-predominant IBS. These are important because overdry stool can cause cramping.

Antidiarrheal agents reduce diarrhea and bloating in patients with IBS with diarrhea.

 ibs diagnosis gastroenterologist - Understanding IBS: Symptoms, Treatment, Diet, and More.


IBS Tests and Procedures

The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea.

For diagnosis, a physician may perform an endoscopy, blood tests for celiac disease, and a stool sample. Diagnosis for IBS often starts with checking for constipation and diarrhoea.

The physician will also examine the patient and ask about symptoms and health history. Occasionally, a CT scan or an MRI is used to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue.

If celiac disease is suspected, the physician may perform a biopsy of the small intestine to rule it out.

Depending on the diagnosis, the physician may also recommend treatments including fiber supplements for constipation and fiber-enriched foods.


IBS and FODMAP Groups

The most common symptoms for irritable bowel syndrome are abdominal pain, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas.

Symptoms may also be different for individuals with IBS.
Diet is one of the most important management tools for IBS.

FODMAPs are sugars with the following functional groups: fructose, fructans, galactans, polyols, and lactose.

They are found in foods rich in fiber, with the exception of fructose found in fruits.

These are some types of foods that are most eaten by people with IBS:

  • Fresh produce
  • Most meats
  • Eggs
  • Grains

Dairy can be an issue for some individuals, and it is recommended that they consume lactose free products


IBS Exercise

Knowing which exercises will be most helpful for irritable bowel syndrome patients is not always easy. But there are many different remedies available in order to make the activity of living with the condition better.

Gentle or low-impact activities such as walking, yoga, light cycling, tai chi, or swimming can help reduce stress and improve fitness.

Making an effort to get the best treatment possible can do a lot to ease symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and make life easier for those suffering from it.

 excercise with ibs symptoms - Understanding IBS: Symptoms, Treatment, Diet, and More.


Avoiding IBS Triggers

One of the many IBS triggers is caffeine; it causes symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain often related to the bloating of gas, noted by those afflicted with IBS.

The symptoms are aggravated after a period of time rather than a one-time consumption which reinforces caffeine as one of the severe ibs triggers.

Stressful Situations
Uncontrolled stress can be one of the most detrimental factors for people suffering from IBS.

High-fiber products, found in cereals, grains, pastas and processed foods.

Gas-producing foods, like beans, lentils, carbonated beverages and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower.

IBS is especially prevalent in women. Watch what you eat: There are several foods which are easier to digest than others, including bananas, oatmeal, and apples.

Sip water or other non-caffeinated beverages often: This will help keep you hydrated and reduce constipation. Take your medication as prescribed.


Healing Your Gut

In addition to the laundry list of symptoms that come with IBS, this condition is also associated with the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria that live in your intestines that help to digest food, protect against infections, and help the immune system function properly.

Research has shown that people with IBS tend to have lower levels of species of bacteria associated with healthy gut function. The key question is how does this happen?

Normally the balance of bacteria in your gut is controlled by things like diet, stress, and sleep.

However, if the small intestine sends too much material back to the stomach (a condition called reflux), it can trigger an imbalance in the gut.

 ibs diet gastroenterology - Understanding IBS: Symptoms, Treatment, Diet, and More.


What is the best probiotic for IBS?


The human body is an amazing thing. It can do things that seem impossible to many people. Your body has the ability to heal itself after any type of injury.

Yet, it can be difficult for your body to heal itself when you suffer from IBS. So how do you help your body heal itself?

Probiotics can be a great way to help your gut heal and feel better. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines and stomach.

When you have IBS, there is too much bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria.

So, by balancing the good and bad bacteria, your digestive system can feel better and stay on more of a regular schedule.

Dr. Schneider is here to provide you with expert medical advice in the field of gastroenterology.

Book an appointment online or contact us  on 011 482-3010 to find out more. 


The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.