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Oceanside, CA

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Oceanside, CA

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What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

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

Who is at risk for developing IBS?

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

You might be at greater risk if you have:

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

What triggers IBS?

If you have IBS, you might have noticed 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 reaction to life's stressors.

What are the causes of IBS?

Researchers do not specifically 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 consist of:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps, typically 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 may 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 techniques and gain control over flare-ups, you'll start to feel better, physically and mentally.

How is IBS diagnosed?

If you've been having unpleasant 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 may need other tests to confirm a diagnosis. Blood tests, stool samples as well as X-rays can help rule out other illnesses that mimic 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 customize your IBS treatment plan for your needs. Typical treatment options include 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 adjustments, symptoms improve:

Dietary changes:

  • Increase fiber in your diet-- consume 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 each day.
  • Avoid caffeine (from coffee, chocolate, teas and sodas).
  • Limit cheese and milk. Lactose intolerance is more prevalent in people 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
  • Don't smoke
  • Try relaxation techniques
  • 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 doctor 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 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 Oceanside, California, please visit our website at or give us a call at (760) 274-2377

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