Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition characterized by abdominal discomfort associated with altered bowel movements (diarrhea, constipation, or mixed). Patients with IBS may describe the abdominal discomfort in different ways, such as sharp pain, cramping, bloating, distention, fullness or even burning. The pain may be triggered by eating specific foods, following a meal, emotional stress, constipation or diarrhea.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
There are currently no laboratory tests or imaging tests to diagnose IBS. IBS is diagnosed based on presence of symptoms, and is diagnosed using the Rome Criteria IV. IBS should not be self-diagnosed; if you suspect you have IBS, see your family doctor or dietitian for a proper diagnosis. It is important to get a diagnosis as to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and endometriosis.
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The goal of IBS treatment is to alleviate symptoms rather than trying to cure the condition. For most people, diet and lifestyle changes are the best option for long-term relief of symptoms - a dietitian can work with you to modify your diet and identify any specific culprit foods. Your dietitian may opt to try any of the following dietary modifications:
Low FODMAP diet
Gluten free diet
Fat restricted diet
Coffee and caffeine restriction
Restriction of spicy foods