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Orange County, CA

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Orange County, CA

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What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a group 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 for developing IBS?

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

You might be at greater risk if you have:

  • Family history of IBS
  • Psychological stress, tension or anxiety
  • Food intolerance
  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Major 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 reaction to life's stressors.

What are the sources of IBS?

Researchers don't precisely know what causes IBS. They believe a combination of factors can cause 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 may find that symptoms flare up during their periods. These symptoms commonly happen again and again, which can make you feel stressed or upset. As you learn 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 uncomfortable 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 frequently 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 recently?

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 disorders that mimic IBS.

What is IBS treatment?

No specific therapy works for everyone, but most individuals with IBS can find a treatment that works for them. Your healthcare provider will personalize your IBS treatment plan for your needs. Typical treatment options consist of dietary and lifestyle changes. A dietitian can help you develop a diet that fits your life.

Many people find that with these adjustments, 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 daily.
  • 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 on a regular basis
  • Don't smoke
  • Try relaxation techniques
  • Eat smaller meals more often
  • Record the foods you consume so you can identify which foods trigger IBS flare-ups. Typical triggers are red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat and cow's milk.

Medical changes:

  • Your doctor 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.

Talk to your doctor if your symptoms don't improve. You may 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 Orange County, California, please visit our website at or give us a call at (760) 274-2377

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