1304 Somerville Rd.
Decatur, AL 35601
© 2011. Riverside Gastroenterology
1304 Somerville Rd., Decatur, AL 35601
Most of the time, your doctor can diagnose IBS based on your symptoms, with few or no tests. Eating a lactose-free diet for 2 weeks may help the doctor evaluate for a possible lactase deficiency.
There is no test to diagnose IBS, but tests may be done to rule out other problems:
• Blood tests to see if you have a low blood count (anemia)
• Stool cultures to rule out an infection
Some patients will have flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. During these tests, a hollow tube is inserted through the anus. The doctor can see through this tube. You may need these tests if:
• Symptoms began later in life (over age 50)
• You have symptoms such as weight loss or bloody stools
• You have abnormal blood tests (such as a low blood count)
• Other disorders that can cause similar symptoms include:
• Celiac disease
• Colon cancer (although cancer rarely causes typical IBS symptoms, unless symptoms such as weight loss, blood in the stools or abnormal blood tests arepresent)
• Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.
Lifestyle changes can be helpful in some cases of IBS. For example, regular exercise and improved sleep habits may reduce anxiety and help relieve bowel symptoms.
Dietary changes can be helpful. However, no specific diet can be recommended for IBS in general, because the condition differs from one person to another. The following changes may help:
• Avoid foods and drinks that stimulate the intestines (such as caffeine, tea, or colas)
• Avoid large meals
• Avoid wheat, rye, barley, chocolate, milk products, and alcohol
• Increase dietary fiber
• Talk with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications.
• Fiber supplements can make symptoms worse
• Laxatives taken for constipation can become habit forming
• No one medication will work for everyone. Medications your doctor might try include:
• Anticholinergic medications (dicyclomine, propantheline, belladonna, and hyoscyamine) taken about a half-hour before eating to control colon muscle spasms
• Loperamide to treat diarrhea
• Low doses of tricyclic antidepressants to help relieve intestinal pain
• Lubiprostone for constipation symptoms
• Medications that relax muscles in the intestines
Irritable bowel syndrome may be a lifelong condition. For some people, symptoms are disabling and reduce the ability to work, travel, and attend social events.
Symptoms can often be improved or relieved through treatment.
IBS does not cause permanent harm to the intestines, and it does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer.
When to See Us
You may need to call us or your primary care doctor may refer you to Dr. Short if you have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or if you notice a persistent change in your bowel habits.