Irritable bowel syndrome is a complex condition that not only affects your bowel movements causing either constipation or diarrhea, but can also cause bloating, belly pain, and gas. It affects anywhere between 25 to 45 million Americans, occurring more commonly in women. Yet many people suffer with symptoms for months or years without knowing they have IBS. April has been designated IBS Awareness Month to help shed more light on the condition.
Here are 10 signs of irritable bowel disease that you need to watch out for:
- Constipation: This is one of the first signs that people with IBS notice. They find it difficult to move their bowels. The condition is usually linked to hard stool.
- Diarrhea: Those with IBS may have alternating symptoms of diarrhea and constipation. A severe gas pain may be an indication that a bout of diarrhea may be about to occur. Chronic episodes of diarrhea may disrupt routine activities of daily living.
- Abdominal Pain: IBS patients may notice cramping pain in the lower abdominal area. The pain may be intermittent and may occur after meals.
- Bloating: The uncomfortable feeling of bloating is generally caused by excess gas production. Women tend to suffer from this symptom more than men probably due to the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. Ensuring you are well hydrated and reducing salt intake may help relieve bloating.
- Incomplete Bowel Movement: The feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels is common symptom of IBS.
- Mucus in Stool: Large quantities of mucus in your stool is usually a sign of IBS. If you are unsure of what you see in your stools, you may need to get a stool sample checked.
- Low Back Pain: This is generally seen in patients who are suffering from constipation predominant IBS. The centralized low back pain may be due to the location of the colon.
- Anxiety: Not knowing when you might need to use the rest room might cause people to become anxious and fearful of embarrassing themselves in public. As a result, many IBS sufferers tend isolate themselves from friends and family.
- Reduced Desire for Sex: Suffering from chronic bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and low back pain can negatively impact desire to have sex.
- Poor Sleep: Abdominal pain and frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night can result in fragmented sleep. Poor sleep in turn can exacerbate other symptoms of IBS.
Talk to your doctor or a gastroenterologist if you have noticed any of the above symptoms. Your doctor will be able to provide guidance about diet & lifestyle changes as well as any treatments that will help manage your symptoms in the long term.
Greater Houston Gastroenterology provides specialized services and treatments for a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, and Spring, Texas. Call us today for an appointment.