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Oceanside, CA

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in Rancho Santa Fe, CA

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What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a group of symptoms that impact your digestive system. It's a common but uncomfortable gastrointestinal disorder. People with IBS have excessive gas, abdominal pain, and cramps.

Who is at risk of developing IBS?

The condition most often develops in people in their late teens to early 40s. Women can be twice as likely as men to get IBS. IBS may happen to multiple family members.

You may be at higher risk if you have:

  • Family history of IBS
  • Psychological stress, tension or anxiety
  • Food intolerance
  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Severe digestive tract infection

What triggers IBS?

If you have IBS, you may have found that certain things produce symptoms. Common triggers include some foods and medication. Emotional stress can also be a trigger. Some researchers suggest that IBS is the gut's response to life's stressors.

What are the sources of IBS?

Researchers do not specifically know what leads to IBS. They think a combination of factors can lead to IBS, including:

  • Dysmotility: Problems with how your GI muscles contract and move food through the GI tract.
  • Visceral hypersensitivity: Extra-sensitive nerves in the GI tract.
  • Brain-gut dysfunction: Miscommunication between nerves in the brain and gut.

What are IBS symptoms?

Symptoms of IBS consist of:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps, typically in the lower half of the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Bowel movements that are harder or looser than usual
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or alternating between the two
  • Excess gas
  • Mucus in your poop (may look whitish)

Women with IBS might find that symptoms flare up during their periods. These symptoms often happen repeatedly, which can make you feel stressed or upset. As you discover management techniques and gain control over flare-ups, you'll begin to feel better, physically and mentally.

How is IBS diagnosed?

If you've been having uncomfortable GI symptoms, see your doctor. The first step in diagnosing IBS is a medical history and a physical exam. Your provider will ask you about your symptoms:

  • Do you have pain related to bowel movements?
  • Do you notice a change in how often you have a bowel movement?
  • Has there been a change in how your poop looks?
  • How often do you have symptoms?
  • When did your symptoms start?
  • What medications do you take?
  • Have you been sick or had a stressful event in your life lately?

Depending on your symptoms, you might require other tests to confirm a diagnosis. Blood tests, stool samples as well as X-rays can help rule out other diseases that resemble IBS.

What is IBS treatment?

No specific treatment works for everyone, but most people with IBS can find a treatment that works for them. Your doctor will tailor your IBS treatment plan for your needs. Regular treatment options consist of dietary as well as lifestyle changes. A dietitian can help you create a diet that fits your life.

Lots of people find that with these changes, symptoms improve:

Dietary changes:

  • Increase fiber in your diet-- eat more fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.
  • Add supplemental fiber to your diet, such as Metamucil ® or Citrucel ®. Drink plenty of water-- eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
  • Avoid caffeine (from coffee, chocolate, teas, and sodas).
  • Limit cheese and milk. Lactose intolerance is more prevalent in individuals with IBS. Make sure to get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli, spinach, salmon or supplements.
  • Try the low FODMAP diet, an eating plan that can help improve symptoms.

Activity changes:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Don't smoke
  • Try relaxation methods
  • Eat smaller meals more often
  • Record the foods you eat so you can determine which foods trigger IBS flare-ups. Typical triggers are red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat, and cow's milk.

Medical changes:

  • Your health care provider might prescribe antidepressant medications if you have depression and anxiety along with considerable abdominal pain.
  • Other medicines can help with diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain.
  • Probiotics may be an option for you. These "good bacteria" can help improve symptoms.

Speak with your provider if your symptoms don't improve. You might require more tests to see if an underlying condition is causing the symptoms.

For further information about Dr. Stengler’s practice and his clinic in Rancho Santa Fe, California, please visit our website at or give us a call at (760) 274-2377

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