Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is the most common disorder affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
Patients with IBS frequently complain of abdominal pain and bloating in association with either diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both of these symptoms. These symptoms may be aggravated by stress or ingesting trigger foods such as caffeine, fatty foods or spicy foods. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome typically do not have worrisome symptoms such as weight loss, rectal bleeding, fever or anemia.
The diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is typically made on the basis of a patient’s symptoms and physical exam. Diagnostic testing such as stool studies, blood tests and even a colonoscopy may be necessary to exclude other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
The treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome typically involves dietary modification and medications to relieve symptoms such as intestinal spasm, constipation or diarrhea. Patients often benefit from regular exercise and measures to relieve underlying stress or depression. Symptoms are usually chronic and require ongoing therapy.