Irritable bowel syndrome can cause a host of chronic and acute symptoms, including very painful cramping and bloating. As a leading irritable bowel syndrome specialist on the Upper West Side of NYC, Dr. Weiss uses the safest and most effective approaches to help patients from throughout New York City manage the symptoms of IBS so they can lead more comfortable lives.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a collection of symptoms that occur in the gastrointestinal tract, including symptoms like mild to severe abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and often, mucusy stools. IBS is a chronic condition in most patients, which means it can last for years, often varying in intensity. IBS can also cause nausea in some patients.
The primary difference between the two is that while IBS may cause many of the same symptoms as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, it is not associated with the permanent tissue damage that commonly occurs in people who have IBD. As a result, treatment is also different and typically less aggressive in patients with IBS compared to those who have IBD.
The underlying cause of IBS isn't known, but researchers believe multiple factors can come into play in causing the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, including chronic and acute stress, hormonal fluctuations, an imbalance of healthy gut flora, sensitivities to certain foods or medications, some diseases, or abnormal nerve signaling which can affect the way your bowels contract and function.
The first step in treatment is making sure the condition is accurately diagnosed. IBS can cause symptoms that are very similar to other diseases and conditions, including colorectal cancer and IBD. Diagnosis will be based on a thorough evaluation and assessment which may include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, upper endoscopy or other imaging techniques. When internal examinations reveal abnormal areas of tissue or areas of inflammation, tissue samples (biopsies) may be taken for further examination in a lab. When IBS is confirmed, treatment may include lifestyle changes to avoid triggers like foods or medicines that cause irritation or to manage stress, or the use of medications to treat specific symptoms. Treatment plans need to be custom-tailored to the specific symptoms and needs of the patient.