- Colorectal (Large Intestinal)
Polyps & Cancer
- Anorectal Disorders
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome consists of a group of symptoms, the most common of which are abdominal discomfort or pain, cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. IBS involves the colon or large bowel, the part of the digestive tract that stores stool. Not a disease, IBS is a functional disorder in which the bowel does not function properly. While there is no cure for IBS, there are effective treatments. Although painful, IBS does not damage the bowel, or lead to other health problems.
For more information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, including symptoms and risk factors, visit our Health Library.
To diagnose Irritable Bowel Syndrome, your doctor will conduct a number of medical tests, including a physical examination, to help rule out other conditions such as polyps, inflammation, food intolerance or allergies and celiac disease. Specific symptom guidelines, called the Rome III criteria, help physicians assess and treat patients.
Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) usually involves medicine, dietary changes, stress management, and exercise.
Laxatives may be prescribed to treat constipation, anti-diarrheals to treat diarrhea, and anti-spasmodics to help control colonic spasms and pain. Low doses of certain anti-depressants can also help reduce pain. A new drug, alosetron, can help women with severe IBS whose major symptom is diarrhea.
Addressing diet is also important. Your physician may ask you to keep a food diary to track symptoms and food eaten to determine what foods may exacerbate your symptoms. Foods that worsen IBS should be avoided, including fatty foods, milk products, alcohol, chocolate, carbonated drinks, and caffeine. Eating smaller meals and adding foods with fiber to your diet gradually can also help. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day is also important.
Stress management - yoga, exercise, and counseling - can also reduce symptoms, and exercise can help the bowel function better as well as reduce stress.