Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Oceanside, CA

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Del Mar, CA

A picture of Dr. Mark Stengler

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Del Mar, CA

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

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

Who is at risk of developing IBS?

The condition usually occurs in individuals in their late teens to early 40s. Women can be twice as likely as men to have IBS. IBS can happen to multiple family members.

You may be at greater 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 trigger 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 don't exactly know what causes 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 include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps, usually in the lower half of the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Bowel movements that are harder or looser than normal
  • 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 commonly occur repeatedly, which can make you feel stressed or upset. As you discover management methods and gain control over flare-ups, you'll begin to feel better, physically and mentally.

How is IBS diagnosed?

If you've been having unpleasant GI symptoms, see your healthcare provider. 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 begin?
  • 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 and X-rays can help rule out other illnesses that resemble IBS.

What is IBS treatment?

No particular therapy works for everyone, but most individuals 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 adjustments. A dietitian can help you establish a diet that fits your life.

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

Dietary changes:

  • Increase fiber in your diet-- eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts.
  • Include supplemental fiber to your diet, such as Metamucil ® or Citrucel ®. Drink plenty of water-- eight 8-ounce glasses each day.
  • Avoid caffeine (from coffee, chocolate, teas and sodas).
  • Limit cheese and milk. Lactose intolerance is more prevalent in individuals with IBS. Be 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
  • Do not smoke
  • Try relaxation strategies
  • Eat smaller meals more often
  • Note the foods you consume so you can identify which foods trigger IBS flare-ups. Common triggers are red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat, and cow's milk.

Medical changes:

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

Speak with your provider if your symptoms do not improve. You might need more tests to see if an underlying condition is causing the symptoms.

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

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

See Our Services