Irritable Bowel Syndrome

rritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal disorder that causes cramps, pain, gas, bloating and changes in bowel habits.

IBS is a functional disorder because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined. Because doctors have been unable to find an organic cause, IBS often has been thought to be caused by emotional conflict or stress. While stress may worsen IBS symptoms, research suggests that other factors also are important.

Specific treatment for IBS will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health and medical history, as well as the extent of the condition and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies.

Treatment may include:

  • Changes in diet. Eating a proper diet is important with irritable bowel syndrome. In some cases of IBS, a high-fiber diet can reduce the symptoms. Keeping a list of foods that cause distress and discuss the findings with a doctor or registered dietitian.
  • Medication. Doctors may prescribe fiber supplements or occasional laxatives. Some doctors prescribe a serotonin antagonist, antispasmodic medications, tranquilizers or antidepressants to relieve symptoms. Serotonin antagonists are usually prescribed for women with severe IBS who have not responded to conventional therapy.