When To See A Doctor About Gi Issues
If you notice changes in your bowel habits or abdominal discomfort that does not go away, its time to seek medical help. Your primary care provider can assess your symptoms and refer you to a specialist if necessary. In preparation for the appointment, keep a symptom diary that tracks how youre feeling, what you eat and your bowel movements.
If youre experiencing ongoing digestive issues, reach out to your primary care provider.
How Do You Know If You Are Having An Ibs Attack
So, what does an IBS attack feel like?
Remember, an IBS attack can occur at any time and be influenced by various factors. It might seem that it has no rhyme or reason. You might even notice your symptoms change over the course of days, months, or years.
IBS does, however, follow certain patterns that doctors recognize. It might help if you keep a symptom diary that you can show to your doctor, who will be able to notice changes in your symptoms over time and possible influencing factors relating to stress and diet, among others.
Here are some of the most common IBS signs to watch out for:
1. Discomfort or pain
The key symptom of IBS is abdominal pain and having a bowel movement typically relieves this pain. Some patients, however, may find pain occurs even after a bowel movement.
If you have abdominal pain, remember that there are numerous possible reasons for it. When it comes to IBS, the discomfort or pain is connected to bowel habit changes.
2. Changes in bowel symptoms
Some or all of your symptoms of IBS may occur together. Some might be worse than others. Your symptoms could vary and, in some cases, seem contradictory.
Gut function in women can be influenced by changes in female hormone levels, and symptoms of IBS can worsen at specific times of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Women both with or without IBS report an increase in GI symptoms, like bloating and pain, right before and during menstruation. Those suffering from IBS typically report more intense symptoms.
Why Do I Have Ibs Suddenly
Many people with digestive symptoms ask this question. In their experience, they didn’t have IBS and then suddenly they have a lot of IBS like symptoms. This creates a lot of questions around why the sudden change and how did this happen? Often times people question their diet if it something they are doing differently. They might think it is a certain food they have become sensitive to, a change in diet, or something their body is reacting to. Because it seems to come on suddenly they think it’s something that changed in their body. What can you do to figure this out?
Just like many health conditions, the actual problem typically starts long before you became conscious of it. Prior to having symptoms, there were things happening in your body that you were not paying attention or were happening on a subclinical level . When those symptoms do appear, they are more intense and sudden.
Post-infectious IBS is the predominant reason why people actually have IBS. Whether you got IBS all of the sudden or it was gradual worsening of your symptoms over time, knowing why you have it is helpful for treatment. Because post infectious is the most predominant form of IBS, it really doesn’t matter if it came on suddenly, over weeks, months, or years. There is an actual test for to determine if you have IBS from an infectious source or not. This test is called IBS smart.
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What Are Symptoms Of Ibs
Some of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Abdominal Pain – The most common complaint among people with IBS is abdominal pain or cramping. The discomfort frequently starts shortly after eating and may go away after a bowel movement. But that is not always the case.
- Diarrhea or Constipation – Bouts of diarrhea and constipation, or sometimes fluctuating between the two states, are other common symptoms. People with IBS often feel they need to stay home or near a bathroom for these reasons.
- Bloating – IBS can cause stomach swelling to the point you cant fit into your normal clothes. So if you find yourself reaching for elastic-waist pants after eating, it could be a sign of IBS.
- Excessive Gas – Perhaps the most disturbing symptom of IBS is uncontrollable gassiness. Publicly passing gas can be humiliating. Fear of letting one go, or discomfort from suppressing a necessary biological function, can make socializing difficult.
- Mucus in Stool – It is normal to pass a small amount of mucus in your stool. However, people who have IBS may notice increased amounts of mucus in their stool.
Concerned you might have IBS? If you have been experiencing digestive distress three times per month for three months, or youve been suffering from symptoms for at least six months, talk to your doctor.
What’s Causing Your Ibs
While the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is unknown, studies have suggested that IBS might be related to a few specific changes in the body. Some symptoms may be caused by spasms, uncontrolled contractions in the muscles of the colon. The nerve endings in the intestines also may become unusually sensitive, magnifying pain. The reasons for these changes are not always known, but factors that have been linked with IBS include bacterial overgrowth, use of antibiotics, and stress, among others.
Psychological factors. The brain and gut are intimately connected. Your thoughts and emotions can trigger symptoms in the gut, and the health of your gut can shape your mental well-being. Stress can cause more contractions in the intestines and increase sensitivity. It’s not clear whether stress or other psychological factors may be a cause of IBS or vice versa. However, we do know that people with IBS often have higher levels of stress and anxiety and that this distress also can make IBS symptoms worse. A 2017 study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility found that people with IBS have higher levels of depression and anxiety compared with those who don’t have the disorder. IBS also is more common among people who experienced psychological trauma as children.
Image: sumnersgraphicsinc/Getty Images
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Can Stress Can Trigger Ibs
The second thing to talk about as a possible cause for getting IBS all of a sudden is stress. We all experience stress of different levels from one day to the next. Some people more than others. If you experienced a major stressful event, the activity in your central nervous system will be up-regulated . With this the nerve endings in your digestive tract will also be more stimulated. This may lead to dys-regulation in the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is the digestive tracts independent self contained nerve regulation system.
If you have a really acute stressful event, especially if it goes on for long periods of time, it can create dysfunction in how your digestive tract receives signals. The nerve endings inside the digestive tract are responsive to systemic stressors . Sometimes these systemic stressors can cause too much stimulation or too little stimulation to the enteric nerves leading to imbalance. This can then change many things but may manifest as a change in how quickly your stools are flowing through your digestive tract . If it’s too much stimulation typically we expect more diarrhea and too little with expect more constipation. Click below for more on stress and
How Long Does An Ibs Flare
IBS flare up duration is different for everyone. Most people’s IBS symptoms will flare-up for 2-4 days, after which your symptoms may lower in severity or disappear completely. Many people experience IBS in waves, in which symptoms may come and go over several days or weeks.IBS attacks can be managed to reduce symptoms or shorten duration using several management techniques .
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Signs Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The symptoms of IBS can be embarrassing, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. IBS is more common than you think, especially in women under age 45. Up to one in five adults in the United States experiences irritable bowel syndrome at some point in their lives. Could you be one of them?
What Is A Functional Gi Disorder
IBS is a type of functional gastrointestinal disorder. These conditions, also called disorders of the gut-brain interaction, have to do with problems in how your gut and brain work together.
These problems cause your digestive tract to be very sensitive. They also change how your bowel muscles contract. The result is abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation.
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Here Is Information About The Onset Of An Attack Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The onset of IBS symptoms is usually slow and ongoing for a prolonged period of time, says Dr. Saad Habba, MD, an attending consultant physician at Overlook Medical Center located in Summit, NJ.
Dr. Habba further explains, Attacks do not come on acutely and do not behave as an on and off switch. Accordingly, they may stay for days and sometimes weeks, particularly if the underlying precipitating factor is constantly introduced, such as lactose intolerance, sugar intolerance or stress.
The association of stress and psychosomatic influences in IBS is well-documented and may play an important role in the severity and length of symptoms.
There is no set period as to when an episode usually occurs or disappears, as every person reacts differently to this condition.
If youve never had any of these issues, but then one day have a sudden onset of peculiar diarrhea that persists, dont assume this is probably IBS.
This happened to me, and even though a nurse thought it might possibly be a first-time attack of irritable bowel syndrome, it turned out to be a condition called microscopic colitiswhich is frequently misdiagnosed as IBS.
Dr. Habba pioneered the concept of IBS being a wastebasket diagnosis and collection of different entities rather than a true single medical condition. Hes been presented and published in 26 national and international medical journals and symposia.
Gastrointestinal Symptoms Unrelated To Ibs
There is no specific test to diagnose IBS. Gastroenterologists use specific criteria to identify the disorder and rule out other conditions. Certain GI symptoms, often called red flag symptoms, may suggest that something other than IBS is the problem. Those symptoms include:
- Abnormal blood tests or anemia
- Blood in your stool
- Family history of inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer or celiac disease
- New symptoms developing at age 50 or older
- Unexplained weight loss
When red flag symptoms occur, your provider may perform additional tests to understand the cause.
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Genetic Factors For Sudden Ibs Onset
The last thing to consider on this question, why people get IBS all of a sudden is genetics and susceptibility. We all know that there is a layer of susceptibility in any health issues. The same is true for IBS. By the way this still applies for acute onset IBS or IBS all the sudden. The reason one person ends up with chronic digestive problems and the next person does not is likely from genetic factors. Some of these are know and some are still being discovered. We will look at the known genetic factors.
The first one that comes to mind involves a protein that influences the strength of your microbiome. We know that probiotics or the good bacterial flora in your digestive tract. These bacteria function best when they live in an ecosystem of diversity and abundance. As a whole these bacteria are referred to as your microbiome. Variances in the FUT2 genotypes may account for decreased numbers of bacteria. People with more alterations in FUT2 are more susceptible to many digestive health issues like Crohn’s and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
The gene itself is involved with production and utilization of prebiotics. Prebiotic’s are the food for the good bacteria. With decreased food for the bacteria they are less likely to survive and thrive. There are many of the FUT2 variations and it is not clear if one is more important than the others. However when you have a lot of variants in this gene, it suggest this may be part of the problem and one area to focus on.
Signs And Symptoms Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome affects between 618% of people worldwide.
This condition involves changes in frequency or form of bowel movements and lower abdominal pain .
Diet, stress, poor sleep and changes in gut bacteria may all trigger symptoms.
However, triggers are different for each person, making it difficult to name specific foods or stressors that everyone with the disorder should avoid .
This article will discuss the most common symptoms of IBS and what to do if you suspect you have it.
What To Do If You Think You Have Ibs
If you have symptoms of IBS that interfere with your quality of life, visit a primary care doctor near you, who can help diagnose IBS and rule out other diseases that mimic it. If you dont already have a physician, you can use the Healthline FindCare tool to find a provider near you.
IBS is diagnosed by recurrent abdominal pain for at least 6 months, combined with weekly pain for 3 months as well as some combination of pain relieved by bowel movements and changes in frequency or form of bowel movements.
Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in digestive diseases, who can help you identify triggers and discuss ways to control your symptoms.
Lifestyle changes, such as a low-FODMAPs diet, stress relief, exercise, drinking plenty of water and over-the-counter laxatives can also help. Interestingly, a low-FODMAPs diet is one of the most promising lifestyle changes for alleviating symptoms .
Identifying other trigger foods can be difficult, as these are different for each person. Keeping a diary of meals and ingredients can help identify triggers (
Additionally, avoiding digestive stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol and sugary beverages, can reduce symptoms in some people .
If your symptoms dont respond to lifestyle changes or over-the-counter treatments, there are several medications proven to help in difficult cases.
When Should I See A Healthcare Provider
See your provider if you have symptoms more than three times a month for more than three months. And if you have symptoms less often, but they interfere with your life, its a good idea to talk to your provider.
Some symptoms may point to a more serious problem. Contact your provider as soon as possible if you have:
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Conditions Similar To Ibs
Though another disorder or disease may cause some of the same effects as IBS, the symptoms and the condition itself may be treated differently. Thats why its important to identify the cause of your digestive issues. Conditions whose symptoms may be mistaken for IBS include:
- Celiac disease: While celiac disease may cause constipation, diarrhea, pain and bloating, it often also has symptoms unrelated to digestion, such as fatigue, joint pain or a rash.
- Colon cancer: Changes in bowel habits can be a sign of color cancer, but other symptoms of cancer include rectal bleeding and weight loss, which do not indicate IBS.
- Diverticulitis: This infection of the digestive tract causes pain, constipation or diarrhea. But it also often causes fever and rectal bleeding.
- Inflammatory bowel disease : IBD includes ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease, and can cause diarrhea, constipation and stomach pain. Unlike IBS, IBD increases the risk of colon cancer and may cause more serious complications.
- Lactose intolerance: Symptoms similar to IBS signs emerge after ingesting milk-based products but are not present at other times.
Other Conditions That Cause Similar Symptoms
While IBS is a syndrome that does not cause visible damage to the gastrointestinal tract, IBD is a group of diseases that occur when the immune system attacks cells in the intestines. This immune malfunction damages the gastrointestinal tract and causes chronic inflammation.
most common types of IBD. Similar to IBD, these both cause changes in bowel movements and stomach pain. However, a person with IBD, including Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis, is more likely than a person with IBS to have the following:
- an unusual response to infection
- a malfunction in the muscles that move food through the body
- an inability of the central nervous system to control the digestive system
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How Can I Best Take Care Of Myself If I Have Ibs
IBS will likely be with you for life. But it doesnt shorten your lifespan, and you wont need surgery to treat it. To feel your best, try to identify and avoid your triggers, including certain foods, medications and stressful situations. A dietitian can help you plan a nutritious diet around your specific needs. Talk to your healthcare provider if symptoms dont improve.
Possible Causes Of Ibs
While we do not know for sure what causes IBS, it is a multifactorial disorder that likely involves an interaction between the GI tract, bacteria in the gut, the nervous system, and external factors, such as stress.
Although not proven, theories exist as to factors that influence IBS symptoms, including:
- neurological hyper-sensitivity within the GI nerves
- physical and/or emotional stress
- the amount or pattern of physical exercise
- chronic alcohol abuse
- abnormalities in GI secretions and/or digestive muscle contractions
- acute infection or inflammation of the intestine , such as travellers diarrhea, which may precede onset of IBS symptoms
The GI system is very sensitive to adrenalin the hormone released when one is excited, fearful, or anxious and to other hormones as well. Changes in female hormone levels also affect the GI tract, so IBS symptoms may worsen at specific times throughout the menstrual cycle. Since these hormones can affect the transit time of food through the digestive tract, this might account for the predominance of IBS in women, although direct evidence is still lacking.
It is important to note that since there is no definitive cause of IBS, many promoted potential causes and advertised cures of this syndrome are simply speculation.
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