MILWAUKEE, Wis., April 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- If you think you may have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you might be tempted to try treating your symptoms on your own. But self-treatment can delay effective treatment. Talking to your doctor can put you on the right track and avoid needless suffering.
The most important first step in treating IBS is a confident diagnosis of the condition. A physician can generally make the diagnosis of IBS based on its symptoms along with a history, physical exam, and limited tests.
The main symptom of IBS is chronic abdominal pain or discomfort, typically experienced along with a change in stool frequency and/or form – diarrhea and/or constipation. The pain is often relieved by having a bowel movement and can at times be worsened after eating.
Complicating this, symptoms can flare-up unexpectedly and can change over time or from day to day. Other symptoms may also occur, such as bloating, gas, or urgency. The symptoms, coupled with the uncertainty and fluctuation, can significantly impair quality of life for those that are affected.
"A health provider who understands IBS will work with patients to address individual needs," said Nancy J. Norton, president of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). "That means not only reducing individual symptoms, but also arming patients with education and self-management tools that will improve their daily living."
While there is no cure for IBS, once diagnosed, the most effective treatment choices to reduce symptoms can begin. Working closely with physicians helps individuals to learn as much as possible about IBS, find out what triggers their symptoms and what may work to alleviate them.
Treatment or management choices, often used in combination, will depend on severity of the symptoms and the impact on quality of life. Examples include lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, gut-directed hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications.
April is IBS Awareness Month. If you think you may have IBS, see your doctor and get an accurate diagnosis. Then work together on a treatment plan that best fits your needs.
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) is a nonprofit education and research organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by chronic digestive conditions. Founded in 1991, IFFGD helps improve care by enhancing awareness, educating individuals, and supporting research into treatments and cures for GI disorders. Learn how you can help at www.iffgd.org or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SOURCE The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD)