Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A Chat with Christian Weber, MD
Do you have ongoing or recurring abdominal pain or bowel problems? If so, you may be among the one out of 10 people living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). We spoke with BMC Gastroenterologist, Dr. Christian Weber, to find out more about this condition, ways to improve symptoms, and how to feel better if you are living with IBS.
What is IBS?
IBS is a very common disorder of the intestine that leads to crampy pain, gas, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. Some people with IBS have constipation, others have diarrhea, and some people experience both. Sometimes a person with IBS has the urge to go to the bathroom. While many different factors are likely contributing to the onset of IBS, ultimately, a specific cause of IBS remains unknown. IBS can be uncomfortable to have and reduces quality of life, but it does not lead to serious disease, such as colorectal cancer. It also does not permanently harm the large intestine (colon).
Who gets IBS?
IBS is one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. Up to 20 percent of U.S. adults have IBS symptoms. Some people are more likely than others to have IBS, including:
- People younger than 50 (IBS usually begins between 30 and 50 years of age)
- People with a family history of IBS
Physical problems such as a gastrointestinal infection, may cause some people to develop IBS. Those with mental health problems such as panic disorder, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder may also sometimes have IBS. Experts believe that people who have experienced abuse tend to express mental stress through physical symptoms. Also, IBS symptoms can be triggered by increased stress.
How is IBS treated?
IBS is a chronic waxing and waning condition. Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBS, but you can take steps to make yourself feel better and relieve symptoms. Treatments may include changing your diet, taking certain medications and/or different mental health therapies. You may have to try a few different treatments before you find one, or a combination, that works best for you.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of IBS and to find the right treatment for you. The first step to feeling better is seeing a doctor to get a correct diagnosis.
Are you living with IBS, or think you might be? Learn more or book an appointment with one of our gastroenterology experts by visitingwww.bmc.org/gastroenterology or by calling 617.638.6525.