Everyone deals with digestive issues like gas, diarrhea, and constipation from time to time. But if you’re experiencing these symptoms chronically or if your stomach troubles are painful, they could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It can be hard to know if you simply have a sensitive stomach or perhaps a more complicated chronic condition. At Integrative Medica, we understand the frustration digestive trouble can bring. Dr. Jacob Schmutz and our care team have the experience necessary to identify and manage digestive disorders, such as IBS.
We’ve curated this informative guide to help you better understand the symptoms of IBS and what you can do to find relief.
What are the signs I might have IBS?
Your digestive system includes your colon, also called the large intestine or large bowel. Your colon is responsible for absorbing water and electrolytes. It also works to turn undigested food into stools.
The cause of IBS remains a mystery, but when you have IBS, it affects how your colon works. This can change how food and waste move through your intestines. The result? Abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements. Other symptoms of IBS include:
- Food intolerance
- Cramping, bloating, and gas
- Mucus in your stools
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Alternating between constipation and diarrhea
- Difficulty sleeping or fatigue
- Anxiety and depression
Symptoms range from moderate to severe and can increase in women who are menstruating or are pregnant. For an IBS diagnosis, symptoms should recur for at least six months, with weekly pain for at least three months.
Could I just have a sensitive stomach?
IBS sometimes gets confused with a sensitive stomach. This nonmedical term describes a stomach that is easily upset. People with a sensitive stomach may experience:
- Recurring gas or bloating
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Nausea or vomiting
- Indigestion, heartburn, or acid reflux
Most symptoms that are related to having a sensitive stomach occur as a reaction to eating certain foods, consuming alcohol, or experiencing stress or anxiety. Almost everyone experiences a sensitive stomach or stomach upset at some point.
One of the main factors that distinguish a sensitive stomach from IBS is pain. Your stomach may feel upset, but if you don’t experience pain, you probably don’t have IBS. Pain is a part of IBS because of the associated colon issues, which cause cramping and pain.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing real stomach distress! If you think you may have a sensitive stomach, the team at Integrative Medica can help.
Is there help for digestive disorders?
The best way to get effective help for any digestive disorder is with an accurate diagnosis. Up to 45 million Americans have IBS, and many more have other types of digestive disorders, so the best place to start is with an experienced specialist.
During your appointment, Dr. Schmutz pays close attention to your medical history, asks questions specific to diagnosing IBS or other digestive disorders, and orders any necessary laboratory work.
Whether you have a sensitive stomach or a chronic digestive disorder, such as IBS, the team at Integrative Medica can help you manage your condition. While there is no cure for these conditions, you can take steps to help keep your symptoms under control, including:
- Identifying food triggers
- Diet and lifestyle counseling
- Stress management techniques
- Supplements to support digestive health
If you suspect you might have IBS or other digestive issues and are looking for relief, the compassionate team at Integrative Medica can help. Call our Salt Lake City office at 801-676-9876 and schedule an appointment today!