Everyone has trouble with bowel movements from time to time, however, for those with IBS the abdominal pain, bloating, and sudden urge to move your bowels can wreak havoc with your plans on a regular basis. The possibility of not making it to the bathroom on time will have you constantly scouting for restrooms everywhere you go. Some people go to great lengths while making long-distance trips such as cleaning their system one day before the journey and thereafter not taking anything until reaching their destination to avoid having an ‘accident’ before reaching the restroom. Indeed, IBS can influence what you do for leisure, where and how you travel, and who you choose to hang out with.
Despite the severe impact on your life, IBS can be hard to diagnose because there are no blockages or other structural problems that cause this condition. There are also no specific tests that confirm a diagnosis of IBS. Research studies have shown that abnormal functioning of the nerves, muscles, and enzymes appears to be the underlying mechanism of IBS. In the past, a diagnosis was made by undergoing extensive testing to rule out other possible diseases. The newer approach is based on recognizing well defined clinical signs and symptoms of IBS.
Common symptoms of IBS are: abdominal pain, bloating and gas that may be relieved with bowel movement and changes in the frequency and appearance of stool including diarrhea and constipation. Other symptoms that might be ignored include: anxiety or depression, headaches, difficulty sleeping, lower back pain, unpleasant taste, and heart palpitations. Your doctor may enquire about how frequently you need to use the restroom, any food allergies, the role of stress in causing your symptoms, and any changes in the appearance of your stool.
While it can be a source of social embarrassment, a confident diagnosis by a qualified doctor will help you avoid a huge battery of unnecessary diagnostic tests and start you on the journey towards successful management of IBS.
At Greater Houston Gastroenterology, we provide specialized services and treatments for a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions. Our dedicated clinical staff and physician assistants are available to assist in delivering high-quality treatment and expert care. As the largest GI group in the greater Houston area, we offer 17 locations for your convenience.