Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common and uncomfortable condition. At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our gastroenterologists are well trained in diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions such as IBS. After carefully evaluating your condition, our specialists will recommend a personalized treatment plan that will provide immediate- and long-term relief.
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system, namely the colon. Patients with this condition commonly present symptoms such as constipation, bloating, abdominal cramps, gas, and diarrhea, among others. Despite the unpleasant symptoms, this condition is not as severe as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, nor is it associated with cancer. It is unclear what the exact cause of IBS is, but different theories indicate that there may be several causes that influence its development such as stress, diet, infections, bacteria, or genetic factors.
IBS affects roughly 11 percent of the population. Although it cannot be cured its symptoms can be treated. It is common for patients who suffer from this condition to try different treatment options in order to find the ones that most effectively relieve their symptoms. Some of the most effective treatment options for this condition are diet changes, medications, lifestyle improvements, stress-relieving methods, and counseling.
Considering that the exact cause of IBS is unknown, the gastroenterologists' main focus is on relieving the patient’s symptoms. Doctors often recommend a combination of different treatment methods. In some cases, especially when the symptoms are mild, patients can successfully improve their condition by making lifestyle changes and learning how to manage their stress levels. However, for patients who have severe symptoms, doctors may also prescribe medications and different types of therapies.
Some of the most efficient treatments for IBS are:
Psychological therapy »
Antidiarrheal medications »
Antispasmodic medications »
IBS medications »
There are three different types of IBS, and all three of them affect a relatively equal number of people. Additionally, it is thought that people who suffer from IBS can alternate between these types.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a condition that comes with a wide range of symptoms that can worsen after eating. Most patients who suffer from IBS have reported that these symptoms are recurrent, as they can be very pronounced for a few days at a time and completely disappear after that.
Additionally, these symptoms affect the daily activity and the quality of life of those who suffer from IBS, causing depression and anxiety.
Some of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are:
Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
There are no specific tests that can be performed in order to detect IBS, as this disease does not affect any organs in a visible way. Therefore, in most cases, the gastroenterologist will diagnose the condition based on the patient’s symptoms alone. The patient is more likely to be diagnosed with IBS if they present symptoms like stomach pain, constant bloating, abnormal bowel movement, diarrhea, and constipation for prolonged periods of time. IBS is also diagnosed by ruling out other possible conditions. Your doctor may order blood tests to rule out infections or coeliac disease. Furthermore, in order to rule out inflammatory bowel disease, the doctor can recommend the analysis of a stool sample.
Some patients might present certain symptoms like anemia, extreme weight loss, rectal bleeding, or lumps that can indicate more serious underlying conditions, such as cancer. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate tests in this case.
Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Some of the most important risk factors for IBS include:
- Sex: Twice as many women as men are suffering from IBS and according to scientists the reason behind this might be the hormonal changes that women go through during their menstrual cycle.
- Age: Although this condition can affect anyone at any point in their life, it has been found that people who are between the ages of 18 and 40 are more likely to develop IBS than people who belong to other age groups.
- Heredity: Studies have found that this condition can be hereditary, as people whose relatives are suffering from IBS are very likely to develop the condition themselves.
- Stress: Some people develop IBS as a result of high levels of stress, emotional problems, mental conditions, or extreme emotional traumas, like PTSD.
- Food intolerance: It is very common for people who are intolerant to certain foods, like dairy, wheat, fructose, fats, carbonated drinks, or alcohol, to develop different digestive problems, including IBS.
- Medications: Scientists believe that there is a connection between certain medications such as antibiotics, sorbitol-based medications, and antidepressants, and IBS.
- Other conditions: IBS can be associated with a wide range of different digestive conditions such as food poisoning or intoxication.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact causes of IBS are not yet known, but specialists have made different connections between this condition and certain factors that might cause it. This disorder consists of a series of abnormalities in the gastrointestinal system, which can be triggered by a wide range of problems, such as:
- Food allergies: These food intolerances have been associated with IBS frequently, as most people who have these intolerances have reported an aggravation of their symptoms when consuming certain foods such as spices, beans, dairy, alcohol, carbonated drinks, etc.
- Stress: Some patients have reported that their IBS was triggered during stressful periods of time. However, specialists believe that stress only aggravates the symptoms of IBS without causing them.
- Hormones: Considering the fact that women are far more likely than men to develop IBS, specialists believe that frequent hormonal changes and imbalances might cause this condition.
- Other conditions: Sometimes, the diagnosis of IBS has been associated with the presence of other conditions such as infectious diarrhea or bacterial overgrowth.
Being a condition that manifests itself through a wide range of symptoms, there are many alternative treatments available that are thought to relieve them. However, it is strongly advised that you check with your doctor before trying any of these treatments, as some of them might have negative side effects.
- Acupuncture: This Chinese technique is thought to be beneficial for people who suffer from IBS symptoms because it can alleviate some of their symptoms and can relieve their stress.
- Herbs: Being a gastrointestinal condition, the symptoms of IBS can be alleviated with a wide range of plants and herbs, such as peppermint, which is a common treatment for diarrhea. Although some plants might relieve certain symptoms, they might also worsen others, so it is always best to ask your doctor what the best treatment options are.
- Probiotics: These are certain beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus or bifidobacterium that are normally found in the intestines, and that can also be found in certain foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, raw cheese, or apple cider vinegar. Additionally, these bacteria can also be procured by taking over-the-counter supplements.
- Relaxation techniques: Taking into consideration the fact that IBS has been frequently associated with stress, certain relaxation techniques, and physical exercises can be beneficial. Some of the most popular relaxation exercises are yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, dancing, or going for walks.
In order to effectively prevent IBS, we must learn how to prevent its symptoms, namely digestive problems and stress. Some of the best ways to avoid irritable bowel syndrome are:
- Counseling: If you do not feel good emotionally, or if you are having a difficult time coping with stress and anxiety, it is strongly recommended that you try counseling sessions with a psychologist. By resolving your emotional issues, you can avoid some of the symptoms associated with IBS.
- Physical activity: By being physically active you strengthen your body and improve your health, as well as relieve some of the stress.
- Breathing correctly: Most adults have forgotten how to breathe correctly, due to being agitated and stressed out. It is important to learn how to breathe from the abdomen instead of breathing from the chest.
- Healthy diet: This is probably one of the most important ways to prevent any digestive problem. By having a healthy diet and avoiding fats and processed foods, alcohol, and cigarettes, you not only avoid developing digestive problems but also help relieve the symptoms of existing ones.
Are you suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? For any questions, information, or guidance related to irritable bowel syndrome, get in touch with our specialty-trained, skilled gastroenterologists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.