Irritable bowel syndrome - aftercare
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that leads to abdominal pain and bowel changes. Your health care provider will talk about things you can do at home to manage your condition.
IBS; Mucus colitis; IBS-D; IBS-C
What to Expect at Home
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be a lifelong condition. You may be suffering from cramping and loose stools, diarrhea, constipation, or some combination of these symptoms.
For some people, IBS symptoms may interfere with work, travel, and attending social events. But taking medicines and making lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms.
Changes in your diet may be helpful. However, IBS varies from person to person. So the same changes may not work for everyone.
Increase the fiber in your diet to relieve symptoms of constipation. Fiber is found in whole grain breads and cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Since fiber may cause gas, it is best to add these foods to your diet slowly.
No one drug will work for everyone. Some medicines are prescribed specifically for IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) or IBS with constipation (IBS-C). Medicines your provider may have you try include:
It is very important to follow your provider's instructions when using medicines for IBS. Taking different medicines or not taking medicines the way you have been advised can lead to more problems.
Stress may cause your intestines to be more sensitive and contract more. Many things can cause stress, including:
A first step toward reducing your stress is to figure out what makes you feel stressed.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if:
Ford AC, Talley NJ. Irritable bowel syndrome. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 122.
Mayer EA. Functional gastrointestinal disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia, chest pain of presumed esophageal origin, and heartburn. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 137.
Waller DG, Sampson AP. Constipation, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome. In: Waller DG, Sampson AP, eds. Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 35.
Review Date: 3/27/2019
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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