Many people worldwide have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and may have questions about their condition, symptom control, and treatment options. Let’s review what IBS is, its symptoms, the causes of flare-ups, and treatment options.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a long-term or chronic condition that affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. People living with IBS can experience various symptoms and bowel habits, depending on the type and severity of their IBS.
There are three different types of IBS, which describe a person's predominant bowel habit. They include IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant), IBS-C (constipation-predominant), and IBS-M (mixed between diarrhea and constipation).
Symptoms of IBS
IBS symptoms can differ by person and fluctuate in severity according to the type of IBS. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Alterations in bowel habits
- Diarrhea, constipation, or both
- Relief of symptoms after defecating
How is IBS diagnosed?
The exact cause of IBS is unknown. You should consult your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Your doctor may order diagnostic tests, such as a colonoscopy, blood tests, or stool samples to rule out other gastrointestinal conditions. A diagnosis of IBS is usually based on medical history, the presence of symptoms, and changes to bowel patterns.
How long does IBS last?
IBS is a chronic condition that requires ongoing medical attention. People living with IBS generally have symptoms that last for more than three months. Even though IBS is chronic, many people can easily manage their symptoms, so it doesn’t affect their daily activities as much.
What is an IBS flare-up?
Flare-ups occur when you experience more intense symptoms than usual, lasting anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on your triggers. Research shows that many factors can contribute to IBS flare-ups. Triggers are different for everyone, so it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing intrusive symptoms.
IBS treatment options
Many people who live with irritable bowel syndrome can manage their symptoms by working with a healthcare provider. Some initial tips include:
- Pay attention to your diet: Many foods can trigger IBS symptoms. Keeping a food diary will help you identify potential triggers to report to your healthcare provider.
- Prioritize exercise: Exercise can help you deal with IBS symptoms and lower your stress levels.
- Find ways to de-stress: Higher stress levels can increase gut motility and trigger IBS symptoms. Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can lower stress levels, which can help with IBS.
People who live with IBS learn tools and tips to manage their symptoms by listening to their bodies, working with a healthcare provider, and using proven techniques.
Ask your healthcare provider if Mahana can help with your IBS. Mahana IBS is an app-based treatment program that helps you discover unhelpful patterns and triggers and teaches you skills to decrease your IBS symptoms.