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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Facts

Mahaska Health Partnership Educates on Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common intestinal disorder that can cause cramping, abdominal pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.

The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) explains IBS as abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits including, but not limited to, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, bloating, bowel mucous and a feeling of urgent or incomplete bowel movements. This condition is also referred to as spastic colon, spastic colitis, mucous colitis or nervous stomach.

“Symptoms of IBS seem to develop as a result of abnormal function or communication between the nervous system and bowel muscles,” explained MHP Adult Nurse Practitioner Lisa Nelson. “People suffering from IBS often describe one of their symptoms as feeling like there is a physical blockage in their bowel, although there is no physical obstruction.”

The ASCRS describes IBS as the contraction of bowel muscles too forcefully or too weakly, too slowly or too rapidly which causes discomfort. IBS is not a serious or life-threatening condition, but it can be a source of anxiety for many people.

“The best thing you can do to help cope with IBS is to keep a diary,” suggested Nelson.

“Track the meals you eat, your stress levels and the symptoms you experience so that you can alter your habits in the future.”

While IBS is not caused by stress, the ASCRS explains that stress can be a major contributor. Many people experience diarrhea, vomiting or upset stomach when feeling nervous or anxious. Reducing the sources of stress in your life and cutting out foods that make your symptoms worse can help you reduce the effect IBS has on your life.

“Relief from IBS symptoms can be a slow process to determine the right modifications to diet, environment and possible medication assistance,” said Nelson. “It’s important to consult your primary care provider to ensure your symptoms are caused by IBS and not a more serious condition.”

Adult Nurse Practitioner Lisa Nelson is available on the MHP campus Monday and Wednesday from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Call MHP Specialty Services at 641.672.3360 to schedule an appointment.